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China-born New Zealand MP denies being a spy

China-born New Zealand MP denies being a spy

The Financial Times reports (paywall) that Yang, a man whose background meant that he would not have been able to leave China without the permission of authorities, and who would not have been able to pass a security clearance for non-legislative work in the New Zealand government, has been investigated by the country's Security Intelligence Service (SIS).

"If you define those cadets or students as spies, then yes, I was teaching spies", he said. He said some of his students were trained to collect, monitor and interpret information.

National Party leader and Prime Minister Bill English and party president Peter Goodfellow, who recruited Dr Yang in 2011, both said that they were aware of his military background.

'This is a smear campaign by nameless people who are out to damage me and the National Party ten days from an election, just because I am Chinese, ' Dr Yang said.

"Once you understand the system and the universities, then I'm not a spy, just a teacher", he said. No information about his Chinese education or military background was included in his official biographies in New Zealand or those published when he was an academic at Auckland university, it said.

He warned that while Beijing appeared to see New Zealand as a softer target than countries such as the U.S. and Britain, "it may also be using it as a testing ground for future operations in other countries".

He also questioned the timing of the allegations ahead of a September 23 election, in which his ruling National Party is in a tight race to retain power.

Jian Yang with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English
China-born New Zealand MP denies being a spy

Mr Yang said he was proud to call himself a New Zealander and contribute to his new country.

In Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman would not comment on the internal affairs of other countries, but said "we are firmly opposed to false reports, groundless accusations and falsifications from some media", the Agence France-Presse reported.

Mr Yang visiting China for a gala luncheon with Li Keqiang, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, in March.

One is the Air Force Engineering Academy of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), where he studied English language as an undergraduate and subsequently taught. The Financial Times said the latter institution specialised in training military intelligence officers and deep cover agents.

"I can understand people can be concerned, because they do not understand Chinese system, but once they understand the system they should be assured this is nothing really you should be concerned about".

Peters said Chinese interests were "starting to dominate the lives of New Zealanders and clearly our economic direction".

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