The troubling case of National M.P. Jian Yang

Jian Yang came to New Zealand in the 1990’s after a stint doing a Masters of Arts and Doctorate of Philosophy at Australian National University. In 1999 he joined the University of Auckland as a senior lecturer in Political Studies and got citizenship in 2004.

15 years later, questions are emerging about the truthfulness of his background and whether or not he was a Chinese spook.

I will be honest that I am concerned that New Zealand authorities were not sufficiently thorough in ascertaining the history of Mr Yang. Mr Yang says that he was at Luoyang University of Foreign Language for the whole of a 15 year period, but did not acknowledge the fact that he was also at the Peoples Liberation Army Airforce Engineering Institute.

It might be that Mr Yang is completely innocent and that his earlier statements that all he did whilst was to teach new recruits English are entirely true. If so then there should be no further reason to doubt his activity. Except that there is.

Croaking Cassandra covered Mr Yang’s past in China and Australia in an article a few weeks ago. Some troubling points arose:

  • He covered up – or was made (his claim)to cover up – how long he was really at Luoyang University – he says from 1978 to 1993, but Baidu and Wikipedia say it was only founded in 1980
  • His praise of the Chinese Communist Party and willingness to be seen meeting with Politburo members of a backward regime
  • A notarised certificate has never been explained
  • Chinese military personnel are generally not allowed to emigrate overseas or even have a stand Chinese citizens passport – Mr Yang

And Mr Yang seems to have an aversion to talking to New Zealand media. All Members of Parliament should understand that they will at some point be interviewed for one reason or another by New Zealand media in the course of upholding their fourth estate responsibilities. They should further understand that as citizens of a democratic nation New Zealanders are entitled to ask critical questions, that unless they are about matters of standard privacy, or genuine irrelevance to the public good, should be answered in good faith.

Perhaps more troubling than the Croaking Cassandra allegations, is the thunderous silence that goes with Mr Yang. No talking to English language media – i.e. New Zealand media; no attempts by his boss Leader of the National Party Simon Bridges or National Party President Peter Goodfellow to find out the full truth about Mr Yang. Nor has the Government said anything. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has not challenged Mr Bridges in Parliament to explain the status of Mr Yang. Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has gone quiet too, though that might be best put down to not wanting to displease China or his boss.

In my view Mr Yang is not fit to be in the New Zealand Parliament for the duration it takes him to be totally honest about his past. By this I mean both with the Department of Internal Affairs who gave him citizenship to New Zealand and the State Intelligence Service, who need to know whether this man is a security hazard or not.

I would like to see Messrs Yang, Bridges and Goodfellow justify Mr Yang’s involvement in Parliament if he cannot do this.

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