Why we need to be concerned about National Party M.P. Jian Yang


During the weekend, on my Twitter account RobertGlennieNZ, I asked Tova O’Brien, reporter for Newshub if she would take up the case of National Part Member of Parliament Jian Yang, and his reluctance to do what I believe is a basic responsibility of any Parliamentarian: to front the media on reasonable request.

If @TovaOBrien wants to do something useful for New Zealanders, how about getting on the case of Jian Yang. If a Member of Parliament will not front the media, they should not be in Parliament. You are entitled to ask him the hard Q’s Tova, even if he does not like it. Democracy.

It was a largely spur of the moment thought, having just read an article about the difficulty of getting Dr Yang to talk to New Zealand media. I was expecting a few likes, retweets and replies. What I was not expecting was 313 likes; 60 retweets and 20 replies – Twitter activity levels that I thought would have been akin to someone standing for Parliament. Perhaps I struck a chord with people because the overwhelming feedback was positive, but the matter clearly resonated with many.

There was one reply that stood out among the responses. One person argued on Twitter that whilst it was neither right, nor wrong, Mr Yang had made a decision not to engage the New Zealand media and we should respect it.  Another one said that Mr Yang will speak to media, but it is only Mandarin written/spoken media, which in a predominantly English speaking country is no use at all to the vast majority of New Zealanders; New Zealand journalism or New Zealand democracy.

I disagree. Yes, Mr Yang clearly made a decision. However Mr Yang holds an elected position in our Parliament. Whilst he is a list Member of Parliament who came in on the back of National’s party vote instead of winning an electorate seat, he has the same responsibilities as the other 119 Members of Parliament. In as far as Mr Yang is not prepared to talk to New Zealand media upon reasonable request, I believe he should not be in Parliament.

So, one might wonder why I am expending an entire article on Mr Yang. The fact of the matter is that there is more to the story of him in Parliament than most people realize and because of that, I am going to delve a bit into his history prior to becoming a National Party Member of Parliament, because there is a story to be told. Much of the evidence below comes from the work of Professor Anne-Marie Brady, a Chinese politics specialist at University of Canterbury.

Dr Jian Yang grew up in Jiangxi Province in China and attended the Australian National University where he earned a Masters of Arts and a Doctorate of Philosophy. During the 1980’s Dr Yang had a period where he was in the Chinese military in a civilian non-ranked capacity. Whilst in the military worked in the Peoples Liberation Army (P.L.A.) Airforce Engineering College and the Luoyang P.L.A. University of Foreign Languages.

Although Mr Yang has claimed not to have directly taught Chinese spies, he has admitted that he could reasonably be viewed as having done so virtue of his teaching. Official Information Act documents show that he did not disclose his military intelligence work. And further questions were asked in 2017 in Australia about his time in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

I was prepared to ignore those, as they are in the past, but more recently Dr Yang has been linked to the Chinese United Front, an organization working to push Chinese activities and influence in New Zealand. He was also invited to attend a military parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 2019, which suggests to me that even if he is a New Zealand citizen, he is maintaining some sort of high level relationship with the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

It strikes me as interesting that organizations across the political spectrum are refusing to buy into the National Party claim that Dr Yang has their confidence and that we should not be concerned. The Taxpayers Union for example say that Mr Yang has a responsibility to talk to the media. Political commentators such as Michael Reddell have expressed frustration at not being able to get Mr Yang to talk to English speaking media.

Dr Yang could resolve much of this fairly immediately by talking to the New Zealand media. As long as he refuses to do so, they are – as are New Zealanders – entitled to draw their own opinions about his actions and the motive for them.

Lessons from Russia


A  film about a German film maker Werner Herzog meeting former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has brought back to public attention some basic lessons from Russia. As the largest of the countries that used to make up the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Russia was the economic and military mainstay of the Soviet bloc, with garrisons in a dozen different nations – Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Albania. But when it collapsed a series of blunders by the west that continued for nearly a decade and contributed to the current stand off we find ourselves in today with a revived Russian bear, hollowed out whatever ideological victory the west might have had.

I believe one of the biggest mistakes made since the Cold War ended was the abject failure to rehabilitate Russia and the other former U.S.S.R. members. The period from the end of 1991 when the U.S.S.R. formally dissolved after voting itself out of existence on Christmas Day that year to when Vladimir Putin, a former K.G.B. agent became President in 2000 was a time of ethnic, social and economic instability. Few in the west seemed aware of the changes – even less probably cared.

No effort was ever made to help Russia or its fellow former Soviet Republics with a transition to an economic system not reliant on 5 Year Plans that here almost always excessively ambitious. Subsequently massive job losses were announced across the board. Wages plummeted. An American volcanologist writing about colleagues around the world said that one of his Russian colleagues was reduced to $35 a month in income. The concepts introduced by the last Premier Mikhail Gorbachev were perestroika (openness) and glasnost (reforms)meant well and were absolutely necessary, but thanks in large part to the west rolling around in the victory over its eastern rival, they failed.

Nor was any effort made to address the fact that these countries, having just spent the better part of a human life under a totalitarian regime directed from Moscow and upheld by local puppets, did not understand democracy. No effort was spent on helping them build new institutions, removing the corruption that came with the Communist command-economy and teaching those that were trusted with the transformation of the institutions how to go about their jobs.

After the Cold War ended former Soviet Republics found themselves with abandoned military hardware and infrastructure that Russia could not afford to maintain. Literally rusting in ports in Archangel, Odessa, Sevastopol, Murmansk and others were Soviet warships whose crews were weeks or even months behind in being paid. Many of them had nuclear propulsion and some had nuclear weapons or the means to store nuclear weapons on board. The poor state of repair no doubt contributed to the Kursk submarine disaster in August 2000.

But perhaps the greatest cost to the west was political. Having failed to help with Russia’s rehabilitation it was now consigned to watching the rise of Mr Putin, whose vision of Russian greatness has only been matched by his cunning. Using divide and conquer tactics he has partially annexed the strategically important Crimea. He managed to build up Russia influence in Iran and Syria, prolonging the civil war in the latter and tacitly endorsing the anti-American sentiments of the former.

Now, the west wonder why Russia went down hill following the Cold War and why Mr Gorbachev, who is now 88 is issuing an old but familiar warning once more: demilitarize politics between the U.S. and Russia or else. The warning signs have been there all along, but in racing to think that Francis Fukuyama’s “End of history” thesis was somehow the future, we forgot the past.

 

China will not tell New Zealand what to do


So, Beijing is getting grumpy with New Zealand for taking a stand on Hong Kong. What a surprise.

There are very good reasons to be thoroughly alarmed by Beijing’s actions with regards to Hong Kong’s sovereignty. And as of Tuesday New Zealand time the Chinese government rubber stamped the law that would enabled the crack down on the rights of Hong Kongers. Within a day, following defiant protests, 300 people had been arrested on grounds of violating the security bill, which criminalizes the right to anti-Police, pro-independence slogans, the possession and/or display of any Tibetan, Hong Kong or Taiwanese flags.

This is in direct contravention of the One State Two Systems rule that China’s Deng Xiaoping and Prince Charles on behalf of Britain had agreed to when they worked out the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1984.

I envisage a major flight of western capital and western country nationals from Hong Kong in the coming weeks and months, particularly if Beijing’s crack down on the protests continues with the intensity of yesterday’s events. And indeed I am already aware of New Zealanders based in Hong Kong looking at properties around New Zealand with the intention of leaving as soon as they have something secured.

Along with the brutal repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, one starts to see a picture of a grotesquely totalitarian regime bent on staying in power at any cost. If one then adds the desire to take Taiwan back and its clashes with Indian forces along the line of control, we see an expansionist power as well.

New Zealand needs to take a number of steps fairly immediately to reduce the influence of the Peoples Republic on our affairs. Some of the steps are domestic and some are on the foreign stage. Domestically we need to ban foreign political donations so that New Zealand politicians cannot be bought out by foreign interests, politicians and businesses. We need to get the National Party to remove Jian Yang from its candidate list for 2020 until the Electoral Commission is satisfied that he is not a Chinese Government plant. Internationally, we need to do more to assist our Pasifika neighbours in terms of infrastructure projects, building up their legal institutions and education systems.

Beijing wonders why so many countries get annoyed with it. We are annoyed because in all these years since it began to open up following the death of Mao Tse Tung, China has steadfastly refused to understand that human rights are not just a western construct. They are a universal construct applicable to every man, woman and child across the planet. Its brutal subjugation of hundreds of millions of people, puts it on par with the United States and Moscow for destructive negative influence on the global well being of humanity. Unless and until this changes, Beijing, like Moscow, Washington D.C. and the capitals of other human rights abusers will continue to be subject to the criticisms levelled at it by N.G.O.’s fellow Governments and individuals.

Is New Zealand First about to be subject of Serious Fraud Office announcement?


Minister for Fisheries Stuart Nash has apologized to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and New Zealand First Member of Parliament Shane Jones for comments made in a telephone call, which aired on television two nights ago. But as this apology goes to air, New Zealand First are facing the prospect of a potential Serious Fraud Office announcement, following revelations that Talleys Fisheries organized two New Zealand First fundraisers.

Perhaps this is related to another suspected fire onboard the good ship New Zealand First. For months there have been concerns about a New Zealand First Foundation, which Talleys has made donations totalling at least $27,000 to. The donations themselves, I should be clear now are not the problem. The problem is how they were handled – or not handled. If the N.Z.F.F. is not part of the party then the likely offences are corrupt or otherwise illegal practices. If the N.Z.F.F. IS a part of the Party then the Party Secretary could be accused of offences around the maintenance of records or failing to declare donations.

In March of this year, a former New Zealand First Member of Parliament and advisor Ross Meurant lifted the lid on his time in the party following an investigation into the N.Z.F.F. by Stuff in 2019.

Potentially serious stuff.

Irrespective of whether Mr Jones wanted to stop camera’s from being placed on fishing trawlers, there is a good case for them being there. Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile will know that I have been following the activities of trawlers around New Zealand, particularly after some serious incidents at the start of the 2010’s. New Zealand marine fisheries are viewed by some as a sort of wild west in terms of (un)lawful conduct, by other nations.

New Zealand’s human rights record, which I take more seriously, is also at risk if we do not make sure that fishing vessels are compliant with New Zealand law and be prepared to prosecute their owners then they are not. The Oyang case, the scampi and hoki allegations show that the actual corruption in the industry is as great as the potential corruption. That it involves Ministers of the Crown is something everyone should be paying attention to.

No COVID19 cases but National and A.C.T. still not getting the message


No new COVID19 cases were recorded in New Zealand yesterday. The good news comes as accusations of COVID electioneering are pointed at the Government. And with the 52nd Parliament just three weeks away from dissolving, the intensifying politicking is happening against a worsening COVID19 picture worldwide – Australia is facing a surge in cases, just like New Zealand; the United States and Britain are being forced to back track on reopening whilst Russia and India reach new rates of infection. And this comes in a week where the COVID19 outbreak world wide hit two alarming figures:

  • 500,000 dead world wide
  • 10,000,000 cases

The determination shown by National and A.C.T. to continue pushing for an open border despite COVID19 having its most dangerous week nation wide yet, never ceases to amaze me. It is almost as if they are in some sort of parallel universe: unable and/or unwilling to understand that reopening the border would be absolutely disastrous for New Zealand.

More incredible still as well as alarming is where some of the proponents of opening the border are getting their ideas from. I am in a group on Facebook called New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a group set up by former A.C.T. Member of Parliament Muriel Newman, that has a distinct right/far right flavour to it. Many of the active members think Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a Communist and that she is determined the non-binding United Nations Agenda 2030 is something New Zealand is going to help give effect to. Many think the Government wants to take away all our legally owned guns, property rights and destroy the economy.

With regards to COVID19, many of the members are in open denial that COVID19 exists. They believe Dr Ashley Bloomfield is spearheading some kind of agenda to take away everyone’s rights under the guise of a medical emergency; that Dr Siouxsie Wiles, whose preference for highlighter hair colours is somehow offensive and degrades her work, is some sort of conspiracy theorist. Somehow apparently Sweden is still going in the right direction and that United States President Donald Trump is being taken down by a media conspiracy because he insists on the reopening of America.

Like National and A.C.T., many of these people seem to think that New Zealand should reopen their borders. The Universities are not going to have the means or know how to be ready. Nor is it their role. Their role is to teach and conduct high level. It is not to be a mass quarantine centre. And the students are another story altogether. Most will come from countries with far worse management of COVID19 than New Zealand. AT least some will not want to go into quarantine no matter how necessary it is, and they will have to be returned to their countries of origin, because there is no way New Zealand should take them.

If you think that is alarming, it gets worse. The COVID19 pandemic was a “Plandemic”, which is their speak for getting COVID19 was a deliberately planned act. Part of this centres around legislation that moved under urgency through Parliament in the week ending 17 May 2020. The legislation was to enable the transition to Levels 2 and 1 under the COVID19 warning system. However that legislation has since been back to Parliament and is currently awaiting its Second Reading, having been open to public submissions for the last three weeks.

Did I say that the urgency was justified? A qualified no. Granted I am not sure what other legislative work the Government was doing during lock down, I am sure that if it was a case of suddenly realizing that Levels 2 and 1 might have no legality, then that is extremely poor handling of the legislation. On the other hand if the legislation took that time to be prepared, acknowledging Parliamentary Services staff could not come in and work from their offices, then perhaps one should be more understanding. Still, it is far from ideal to push a Bill of Parliament through the entire process in two days. The protests were substantial and organizations like Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission both opposed it.

The best thing that I think can happen to National and A.C.T. in this election is a sound defeat. And I am not saying that because I am opposed to them getting into power. I am indeed opposed to them getting into power, but my desire to see them get soundly defeated is because right now they genuinely want New Zealand to be exposed to the raging epidemic of COVID19. No responsible Prime Minister would ever knowingly do that.