Jian Yang, the MP at the centre of a debate about the extent of China's influence in New Zealand, did not disclose his links to military intelligence when applying for residency in 1998.

Documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA) also show less than a year after leaving China in 1994 he was working at the Australian Parliament on the Senate's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The documents were released this afternoon, on the eve of Winston Peter's announcement of the formation of a new government, following OIA requests made last month by the Herald.

Yang moved to New Zealand in 1999, becoming a lecturer in political science at the University of Auckland, then entering Parliament on the National Party's list in 2014. He re-entered Parliament at the recent general election after being placed 33rd on the party's list.

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The documents show Yang referred to his work and study history in China - 15 years in total from 1978 - as solely with "Luoyang University".

National Party list MP Dr Jian Yang left China in 1994 to study at the Australian National University, where he worked in the Australian Parliament as an intern in the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. Photo / Dean Purcell
National Party list MP Dr Jian Yang left China in 1994 to study at the Australian National University, where he worked in the Australian Parliament as an intern in the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. Photo / Dean Purcell

It has subsequently been revealed Yang graduated with an undergraduate degree from military-linked institutions the People's Liberation Army Air Force Engineering Academy, and later lectured at the elite spy school the Luoyang Foreign Languages Institute.

In a note accompanying the release, Immigration New Zealand said: "We note that Mr Yang met all the requirements under the relevant legislation at the time of his residence application and no character concerns were identified at the time."

Questions to Immigration NZ about whether recent concerns about the level of Yang's disclosure, or subsequent character concerns, had triggered investigations at the department were answered in a statement by INZ Assistant General Manager Geoff Scott.

"No new information has come to light which would warrant an investigation," Scott said.

Yang this afternoon in an email denied he had made a false disclosures: "Luoyang University was the partnership university of the Foreign Languages Institute."

The National Party was "fully aware of my background before nominating me as a candidate and I have not been interviewed by the SIS about any matters", he said.

"I am no longer a member of the Chinese Communist Party and have not paid a membership fee or had any connection with the Party since I left China over 23 years ago."

In the Financial Times expose breaking the story last month, co-credited with local outlet Newsroom, the Foreign Languages Institute was said to specialise in "training both openly acknowledged military intelligence officers and 'secret line' deep cover agents".

The report also said the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) had begun investigating Yang's background and were interviewing people as recently as last year about the matter.

In a press conference after the report of his background broke, Yang said he had served as a civilian officer in the PLA and was required to not to name the institutions as a condition of being allowed to leave China.

He declined today to elaborate on who exactly had requested he kept the institutions vague.

He said last month he was not a spy, but conceded he was involved in training spies to assess intercepted communications.

Documents stamped from "Luoyang University" said between 1990 and 1993 Yang taught classes in "American Studies" and "English Listening" and "other courses".

"He was conscientious in his work and achieved a lot," the certificate said.

The most revealing part of today's information release is a two-page statement of working experience written by Yang.

This again refers only to "Luoyang University", but also sees Yang claim he had planned to study in the United States, but the pro-democracy crackdown at Tiananmen Square in 1989 prevented his earlier departure from China.

"Unfortunately I graduated from the Centre just days after the Tiananmen Square crackdown. After the crackdown, the Chinese government dramatically changed its policy towards sending students and scholars to study abroad."

Following this, Yang said he resumed teaching at "Luoyang University", supervising 16 students.

He departed China in 1994, to study at the Australian National University, where he worked in the Australian Parliament.

"During September and November 1994 I worked as an intern in Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Australian Parliament," he wrote.

Yang served as a member of New Zealand's foreign affairs, defence and trade parliamentary select committee from 2014, until his unexplained removal from the committee in March 2016.

In Australia, the issue of China's influence has recently attracted national concern and led to official warnings from the university sector and the intelligence community.