National MP: I taught Chinese spies


A New Zealand government MP has admitted teaching English to Chinese spies when he was a lecturer at a language institute run by China's spy agency.

Dr Yang replied emphatically: "No".

Mr Yang grew up in China before moving to Australia and then New Zealand.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Bill English, who is the head of the National Party, says he was aware early into Dr Yang's political career, which began when he was elected as a list MP in 2011.

On Wednesday, Newsroom reported Dr Yang had studied and taught at the People's Liberation Army-Air Force Engineering College.

"Both of them were simply teaching English language because there was no need to do any intelligence training, because these graduates did not go overseas", Dr Yang told those gathered. "At the universities you just learn language", Dr Yang said.

Yang conceded that he had been a member of the Chinese Communist Party and a civilian officer in the PLA.

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Chinese officials have privately expressed fears that an oil embargo could risk causing massive instability in its neighbour. China's United Nations ambassador Liu Jieyi called for a resumption of negotiations "sooner rather than later".

In a statement which he read at the press conference Dr Yang said he had been "nothing but upfront and transparent about my education and employment".

"This is a New Zealand citizen".

Nationals MP Jian Yang at Chinese and Korean New Year festivities in the Auckland suburb of Northcote.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang poured scorn on the FT article but said China wouldn't comment on other countries' domestic matters. "You get to know people as MPs and I think from early on I've been aware that he had military training including military intelligence", he said.

Jian condemned the "defamatory statements" and said he was a proud New Zealander who had been transparent about his background. "My sense is he's never tried to hide that background", Mr English said, as quoted by The New Zealand Herald.

As Mark Jennings reports in this video, Yang says he had fully disclosed his military intelligence to the National Party but had left it out of his biography on National's website because people didn't understand the Chinese military system.

"The National Party either spectacularly failed to check out this candidate, or were totally naïve about what his background meant".