Search This Blog

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Jian Yang: A spy in the Beehive?


Oblique strategy tip of the week: Try reading the sections of this post from back to front.

So the Jian Yang as a Chinese spy story keeps on getting more interesting the further we dig and kudos to Matt Nippert and the New Zealand Herald for continuing to run the story while the only other mainstream media outlet (Stuff) remains conspicuously silent* on what should be a red hot story.

And Nippert’s most recent update makes it clear why it’s not a red hot story: “closer engagement with China”.

However just because we do a lot of business with China does not mean that we should ignore what is clearly a potentially serious security risk or believe the ridiculous claim made by Yang that this is racially motivated just because he is Chinese as there are a few extra threads to this story which need to be pulled before we might actually get an answer to our question: Is Yang a spy?

What is a spy?

Thanks to James Bond films and TV shows like Homeland many people have the picture of spys to be tuxedo wearing, martini swigging (shaken not stirred!), STD infected men, engaging in an ongoing series of high adrenaline stunts in an attempt to stave of midlife crisis or blonde haired, neurotic and mentally unstable women who get to wear hijabs and constantly worry if their co-worker is secretly working for Al-Qaeda**.

However the reality is a lot more prosaic as most spies could be simply defined as “government workers with high security clearances”*** who sit at their desks, work through files and cases, work on policy and spend more time sitting in meetings than is good for them. In short the same kind of work that most people in government do, albeit under the shroud of secrecy.

A spy can also be someone who is in a position to pass on information and documents to another party in a clandestine manner, usually to a foreign power (although industrial spies do exist) which is far closer to what Yang might be than having to drive an Aston Martin backwards down a snow covered slope while fending off masked attackers on skis with your bullet firing umbrella.

What is spying?

Again as with Bond and Homeland the idea of what spies actually do is usually very far from the truth. Spies collect information, do research/analysis and deal with issues of security risk, which usually comes in the form of a security vet or assessment (of a person, group or situation), which will be familiar to anyone who has ever had to get a security clearance.

There are some in the trade who do engage in things more traditionally seen as spying such as surveillance (both physical and signals), black bag (B&Es and various other genuinely covert activities like wet work) however these are a small minority compared to most who work from desks in offices like other government employees.

And like the wider definition of a spy noted above, spies can also be people in far more prosaic roles such as a student or a business person who just happens to have access to the source of information that an intelligence agency wants.

This often plays out as an intelligence service going to see a particular person who is going to travel to the country of interest and either asking that person to gather some information for them; for example if the person was a student going to study at a particular overseas university they might be asked to gather information on a particular topic taught by a particular professor, enrol in that course or simply attend a lecture by that person.

Then when said person gets back to NZ they might be asked to come in for an interview or simply write a report on what they saw and learnt which means that the person who gathered the information is never in the employ of any intelligence agency (and may never fully know the extent of what they have done) and the level of plausible deniability can be maintained.

And while some staff in foreign embassies (such as a military attaché) may be spies (or at least reporting to a second agency other than their own) spies can also (as seen above) exist well outside of any official channel and are simply doing their job of gathering information quietly and surreptitiously without attracting attention.

This makes Yang’s claim that the people he taught were not spies but “simply collecting information” seem unknowingly self-incriminating and duplicitous as Yang appears to be deliberately trying to paint a “spy” as the Hollywood trope rather than the reality he would know by having taught them.

So Yang in his role as both student in Australia and MP in NZ could quite easily be a spy without having to be a card carrying member of some secretive organisation as both his positions both here and in Oz would have given him access to a high level of information which would be exactly the stuff that a foreign intelligence agency would seek to obtain.

Just looking through the list of things the select committee he sat on saw is enough to raise a few eyebrows let alone consider that if Yang had been under orders to influence a certain bill or piece of legislation to favor Chinese interests.

None of this actually means that Yang is a spy but it does dispel the image that Yang is trying to paint with his denials that he is not a spy because he only taught people who “collect information” because that is exactly what spies do.

So why Yang?

In short the following facts apply to Jian Yang as has been listed in the media:

·         Was a member of the Chinese communist party
·         Attended and taught at a school for spies in China
·         Was told not to reveal his true educational/employment background when leaving China
·         Would not say who told him not to reveal this
·         Failed to fully declare this background when coming to NZ (and possibly in Oz)
·         Has never been given a security vet by the NZSIS or any other NZ agency
·         Was directly courted by National to join the party
·         Sat on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee for three years
·         Was removed from the above committee once his background was known

Yang is probably now under severe scrutiny by the NZSIS and other members of the Five Eyes, as international media interest in this story has been high (with the Financial Times in Hong Kong work with Newsroom NZ to first break the story, which is definitely worth the read), and while both National and Labour would probably hope this would go away its likely to not go away as there are far too many questions in this story and Yang’s background to just sweep it under the rug.

What questions?

In my previous work at Immigration NZ, dealing with things high risk, the main tool when deciding how to deal with any potential risk was to look over the individuals background and history, check their motivations for coming to NZ (and to go back to their home country) as well as any other clear links or issues which might arise before making a decision.

And in Yang’s case, doing things like failing to fully disclose his work and study history and the nature of his background are automatic concerns right off the bat. The fact that he appears to have knowingly withheld this information (because he was told by unknown persons not to) makes this omission even worse and makes his claim of being loyal to NZ a lot less credible.

It also raises the exact type of questions that have been raised; of exactly what he did hide; why did he hide it; who told him to hide it; how strong his links to those organisations still are, what, if any, information did he have access to which if passed to China would be of concern (possibly most if not all) and how much National knew when seeking him out to join the party.

Did anyone check Yang’s background prior to joining the National Party?

Both Immigration NZ and Citizenship would have checked Yang when he applied for a visa and to be a NZ citizen but unless there is something obvious (like a warning from a third party about the candidate) both agencies rely on the applicant to be honest in the information they provide and for that information to be in full and with sufficient detail to do the basic checks needed to process these types of applications.

So when Yang failed to declare his full background there was a big hole in his history and while it would be nice to imagine that an eagle eyed person working on those files might have noticed that and bothered to follow it up, it’s clear that they did not*4 and accepted Yang at his word.

Then there is the issue of the statement made by National Party President Peter Goodfellow (an incredibly rich man with a background worth Googling) that while Yang has not had a security vet he was vetted by the NZ political lobbying firm Saunders Unsworth.

Who is Saunders Unsworth?

On first hearing this, my ears pricked up as the idea of a bunch of lobbyists doing a security vet seemed stupid at best and majorly concerning at worst.

And upon checking out their website stupid went out the window and in waltzed concerning with a big grin on its face.

Seems that Saunders Unsworth, apart from shilling for a lot of large NZ business and overseas multinationals (because that’s what a lobbyist is), has a very obvious connections to China as a link (in Chinese on its main page) leads to a page which contains the following information in Mandarin:

The Company may arrange to introduce you to key decision makers within the Government of New Zealand and to assist you in obtaining regulatory approvals. It is also possible to provide your organization with advice on New Zealand government or public relations decision making.

Leaders of our Chinese team are trade experts Charles Finny. Charles has served as a deputy director of the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing for four years, proficient in Mandarin, and has served as director of the New Zealand Business Office for three and a half years in Taipei. Before taking over the post of Chief Executive Officer of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce, Charles has been the chief executive officer of the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Trade Department during the signing of the China and New Zealand Free Trade Agreements.

Apart from the fact that the company seems to be actively courting business in China and China only (as there were no other foreign language links on the site), its staffed and run by Ex national Party members or those favorable to the party as this rather bitchy little snippet from their profile of Steven Joyce shows:

His involvement with the Exclusive Brethren led to him being named as one of the ‘Hollow Men’ in Nicky Hager’s pathetic beat-up publication.

So a National party aligned bunch of lobbyists with clear links to China did the security vet on Jian Yang and declared him safe to bring into the National party and subsequently get access to all sorts of classified information and documents as a MP sitting on a select committee, it’s the kind of suggestion that ranks up there with vampires would be ok to run blood banks.

So is this more a problem with National?

Yes it is, yes indeed as National has been so far in bed with China and Chinese influences that it’s no surprise that someone like Yang has ended up where he is as why not, it’s business as usual for National.

So far the response of Bill English has been to do what he always does and simply say nothing of substance (truly he learnt well from John Key) and stall, delay and obfuscate as much as possible.

His comments directly pertaining to Yang simply sound like Sargent Shultz shouting "I know nothing!"  but whats new in Toy Town?

So what next?

With National out of government and Yang off the select committee for the moment we could all just pretend that the problem is dealt with but as a MP Yang still has potential to get access to documents and information and until properly vetted he remains a risk and as Nippert notes:

The New Zealand SIS are said to be "extraordinarily rigid" in its approach to foreign citizenship, to the extent that marrying a foreign national - or even being born in a friendly country such as Australia - raises significant hurdles for anyone attempting to secure clearance.

I can attest to that “rigidity” as I had to fight tooth and nail to get my clearance when I worked at Immigration simply due to having lived outside of a Five Eyes country for 10 years and that the NZSIS has no direct links to verify any information or documents I provided*5.

And this is not a racial or a “Chinese” thing. While not always happy with some of the behaviours of NZSIS or the GCSB (I remain a believer in intelligence reform) I don’t balk at the idea of national security or the need to ensure the security of New Zealand by doing checks on people in certain places and positions.

So that leaves me in the same position as the Daily Blog where I would not be surprised if Yang was found to be a severe risk or even if he stood up and announced he was passing information back to China as there is far more information to indicate that he is a risk than any possible bona fides he might have.

The problem, as Martyn Bradbury notes, is that National is so infested with this issue that Yang is really just the most obvious indication of how beholden National is to China (Judith Collins and Orivida or Maurice Williamson and Donghua Liu are the next the most obvious examples but as we know the rabbit hole goes a long way down for National and China) and in fact it would not even surprise me at this point that National was fully aware that Yang had intelligence links back to China and deliberately got him into the party and onto that select committee as part of a deal rather than any “accident” or “oversight”.

At a minimum Yang needs to be fully vetted by the SIS and NOT Saunders Unsworth.

What about Labour?

The incoming Labour government gets to make hay of any bad news that Yang generates for National but in the long run they too are keen to play with China but there just might be  more scruples in Labour than National, as well as less  links to China and Chinese businesses, to be able to moderate those influences down to things that are not outright espionage, spying or criminal behavior.

Perhaps not relying on Suanders Unsworth to do their security vetting is probably a good start.

Is this really that much of a risk?

China might be a major trading partner but they are not a democracy or a place which holds any political ideals to which Kiwis might aspire (unless you are a member of National then "all aboard!") and its human rights record and history make it a risk no matter how much milk product we sell there.

Also when you consider the Chinese use of cyber weapons and cyber warfare (defined as Advanced Persistent Threats or APTs) and things like the recent hack of Australian Defence secrets (not proven to be Chinese but it nicely illustrates the risk of how close to home these things can be) and the extent of Chinese influence in NZ (and how frantic National is to deny it) and in the Pacific (defined as soft power) Yang is just one person, but one person in a key position, with the perfect training and background to hoover up information or have a detrimental (or China flavored) effect on NZ laws and legislation, and in an environment of rising Chinese influence then the answer is YES!

And if there is a risk and it cant be mitigated then the natural response of the Squirrels (and any sane person) would be to cut Yang from seeing anything which would be of issue. The only other option is to court/allow political interference which given how this is possibly a Five Eyes issue may not be possible. This is not like an electoral secretary for an MP calling up to argue for a visa for the MP's "cousin" this is something which if allowed is a full blown risk with little to mitigate it.

So is Yang a spy?

We will probably never know for sure but you don’t need 100% certainty to have concerns about an area of risk and if the shoe fits then I reiterate my comment that if he was to be found a risk then I would not be surprised one bit.


*-another good example of why having the only two mainstream media outlets in NZ merge might not be a good idea.
**-because haven’t we all.
***-that’s a direct quote from one I know.
*4-Having seen how overstretched and often understaffed both INZ and DIA are in these roles I have some sympathy for the people completing these files
*5- To their satisfaction at least, I could prove my background but just not to their standards without going through a lot of extra hoops before I got my clearance

17 comments:

  1. Sorry Anon, comment deleted, as I noted before, due to not having a proper a proper name to post comments under. Please post under something other than "anonymous".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This seems unfair and arbitrary. This is a blog for your thoughts, not a blog to censor the posts of others. I have a right to express my opinion even if it differs from yours.

      Delete
    2. You misunderstand, you can express your opinions but not under the name "Anonymous" as it can be used by anyone and does not indicate the poster.

      So feel free to post away (and I encourage you to do so) you just have to choose a proper name to post under.

      Please accept and understand this as other blogs have similar rules and there will be no further warnings.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
  2. What motivates the furore over Jin Yang if not anti-Chinese sentiment?

    New Zealand parliamentarians and state servants collude with the intelligence services of many nations, particularly, as you have noted, the Anglo-Saxon "five eyes" nations of Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States of America. Peter Thiel, who is a real spy of the most despicable kind, was secretly made a New Zealand citizen in order to facilitate his espionage operations directed against the people of this country, and no one in the mass media is calling Peter Thiel, the government or parliament to account on that one.

    So what is different about Jin Yang? That he was, or may be a Marxist? That may concern some of us, myself included, but the highest rank in New Zealand's security intelligence apparatus, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is occupied by the Marxist Cheryl Gwyn. So again, what is different about Jin Yang?

    And do you, E.A., really believe that Ms Rebecca Kitteridge and her mates in the SIS should have the last say on who can become a New Zealand citizen, who can be employed within the state service, who has the right to live undisturbed on their own land, and now who should have the right to sit in the New Zealand parliament? I thought that privilege was supposed to belong to the voting public of New Zealand. (Not quite correct of course. The monarch can prevent elected members from taking up their seats on a range of political and other grounds, but Jin Yang has complied with the political and legal conditions for taking up a seat in parliament).

    If you were to try looking at the Jin Yang issue through the eyes of someone who is not European, and not a cog in the wheel of the British colonial regime, you might then recognise that there is nothing to distinguish his case from a hundred or even a thousand others except for the fact that he happens to be ethnically Chinese.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Geoff:

    As I am still working on the Peter Thiel post I will avoid commenting on that for the time being.

    However the difference between Yang and anyone else who might end up in that position are the two salient facts that he appears to have an intelligence background and that he has never been vetted.

    I reiterate what I said in my post about this not being a racial thing as Mr Theil, while definitely a risk to NZ, does not appear to have access to select committee documents like Yang and he is not a MP (ie not being vetted in regards to being a MP).

    Also nowhere in my post do I say or suggest that Yang should be stripped of his citizenship or that the SIS should have the last say on the matter. As someone who decided on the outcome of peoples applications for a visa when at Immigration we did take Service advice when required but the decision always remained that of Immigration and that was only ever part of the decision matrix, we also considered their family situation, their reasons for coming and leaving, the possible effects on family and all manner of things fair and just to avoid being accused of being biased or racist.

    As for Yang's legal eligibility to take up office I have no issue with that but then again I am not advocating that he be removed as a MP just not allowed access to sensitive documents and information due to the possible risks associated with him.

    And on that point if he is deemed a risk, and at this time I do deem him such, then I am definitely of the opinion that he should be barred from sensitive information. All nation states, democratic or otherwise, act in this manner as national security is one of those few absolutes that transcend all forms of government.

    Probably one area which I am strong on is that if a MP is going to be on a select committee with such sensitive info then a vet should occur, regardless of if they were born in NZ or overseas. Matter of course for all. But that's just me.

    It might be difficult to believe but no work I ever did in Immigration or elsewhere was ever racial motivated or prejudiced and nor would 99% of my colleagues have been. The frame work is countries of risk not the ethnicity of the people that live in them, trying to profile based on ethnicity is long proven to not work however the fact that the inhabitants of a country might be of a certain ethnicity means that these things can be easily confused.

    As such the problem is not Yang being Chinese but that Yang studied and taught at a Spy school, was told not to disclose this when applying for visas and citizenship, appears to have deliberately withed that info, we don't know who told him to do that, he wont tell us who and he has had access to classified and highly sensitive info with no vetting of any kind.

    None of those concerns focus on him being Chinese as those concerns could apply to any person of any nationality (including or friend Peter Thiel).

    So I do not care if he is Chinese, American or antarctic penguin but those issue and that line of behavior from him does signal an attempt to hide his background and given his background that is of concern.

    I do strongly disagree that this is just like all the hundreds or thousands of cases which INZ or DIA (or the SIS) might process and those rather unique (and concerning) features have been spelt out are not your avarege applicant in any way shape or form.
    Most cases through INZ or DIA are avereage people who want to come to NZ for whatever reason and do not have the rather unique background that Yang had and if they do they don't usually try to hide it.

    I can speak from solid experience that one of the biggest indicators for risk in this area is when people attempt to deliberately hide or obscure a background of this nature, if Yang had been upfront about it then 50% of this issue would automatically be gone.

    ReplyDelete
  4. And continues...

    And as for cogs in the British Colonial regime, my place of work has a strong focus on Te Aka Taiwhenua (along with most of government) so if its a regime, its a British colonial/Maori regime.

    I don't know if Cheryle Gwyn is a Marxist but I am sure she has been vetted and that taken into account.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "As for Yang's legal eligibility to take up office I have no issue with that but then again I am not advocating that he be removed as a MP just not allowed access to sensitive documents and information due to the possible risks associated with him."

    In a true parliamentary democracy parliament (subject to the "will of the people" as expressed in the electoral process) is deemed to be the highest authority in the state and consequently parliamentarians enjoy what is known as parliamentary privilege. In essence that means parliamentarians can only be vetted, regulated, censured or removed from office by their peers formally assembled in parliament, or by the Speaker of Parliament who is literally the representative "voice" of parliament and who acts with the authority of the house. Therefore no state servant or state service (including the SIS and the judiciary) has the right to "vet" a member of parliament or place any limitation on the functions which a member of parliament undertakes in exercise of his or her rights and duties as a member of the house. To allow such outside vetting would be to say that the intelligence services exercise greater authority in the state than either the people or their elected representatives. While this may be the actuality in New Zealand, it is in absolute contradiction to the principles on which the system of parliamentary democracy is based and therefore cannot be endorsed by any who claim to genuinely hold to those principles. So neither you nor the SIS can deny Yang access to any documents or information that are accessible to members of parliament as of right without at the same time undermining the very foundations of the democratic system.

    "The frame work is countries of risk not the ethnicity of the people that live in them... however the fact that the inhabitants of a country might be of a certain ethnicity means that these things can be easily confused."

    You seem to be saying that Yang is a risk not because of his race, but because of his country of origin. It is something of an understatement to say, as you do, that the two kinds of discrimination - on the basis of ethnicity and country of origin respectively - can be easily confused. You are suggesting that we should discriminate against Yang not because he is Chinese but because he comes from China. One billion Chinese might see that argument as a case of occidental inscrutability, and I confess I would be of the same mind.

    "Yang studied and taught at a Spy school, was told not to disclose this when applying for visas and citizenship... one of the biggest indicators for risk in this area is when people attempt to deliberately hide or obscure a background of this nature, if Yang had been upfront about it then 50% of this issue would automatically be gone."

    I agree that Yang has been less than candid in that respect, and that concerns me also. However, politicians are wont to portray themselves in the most favorable light, and I suggest that Yang has been no more economical with the truth than most politicians. But your colleagues in INZ and the New Zealand state generally play exactly the same game as Mr Yang and his mentors in the Chinese bureaucracy. When applicants for citizenship baulk at pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, they are told that allegiance to the Queen really means allegiance to the law, which is nonsense, but no different in principle to Yang's claim that giving the name of a "partner university" was equivalent to revealing the name of the military educational institute which actually employed him. So you are trying to apply a double standard in the case of the hapless Mr Yang. On the one hand you invite him to respond with a nod and a wink when pledging allegiance to the Queen, and on the other you expect him to be absolutely and strictly candid when citing his involvements with educational institutions in the PRC. Yet another mystifying example of western inscrutability.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "And as for cogs in the British Colonial regime, my place of work has a strong focus on Te Aka Taiwhenua (along with most of government) so if its a regime, its a British colonial/Maori regime."

    It is a truism that British rule could not have been established in this country without the acquiescence and practical support of Maori people, would not have endured for the following half century without the military, economic and political assistance of a significant proportion of iwi, and still depends to a certain degree on continued political collaboration from Maori. It is also true that any successful colonial system depends on at least the passive cooperation of a significant proportion of the native people. But no matter what degree of cooperation is obtained from the natives, it remains the British (or French or Spanish as the case may be) colonial system, and if you need any proof of that, it comes from the fact that when the natives withdraw their cooperation (as in 1845 and 1862, for example) the colonial power responds with all the force at its command to suppress and destroy the native social institutions.

    "I don't know if Cheryle Gwyn is a Marxist but I am sure she has been vetted and that taken into account."
    Of course Gwyn is a committed Marxist and of course she has been vetted by the SIS who concluded that her Marxist ideals presented no risk to the New Zealand state. So why should Yang, who may have been a reluctant Marxist as a matter of political expediency, be considered a risk when Gwyn is not?

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Yang affair is indicative of how the New Zealand political establishment is all too ready to rush in to a place where angels fear to tread. Two Asian ethnic groups coming from states which are current rivals and recent foes, that is people of Indian and Chinese descent respectively, now constitute significant components of the total New Zealand population. As you have observed, the Chinese immigrant community is closely identified with the National Party, and the Indian community is, broadly speaking, aligned with Labour. Given this ethnic and political balance of forces we should be alert to the possible consequences if Labour, in this case, seizes on the notion that people from China in some way pose a greater risk to New Zealand society than people from India, Britain, South Africa, the United States or any other country. The reality is that changes in demography and trading relationships mean that New Zealand Europeans can no longer afford to discriminate on the basis of a person's country of origin, and most particularly cannot afford to discriminate against people from China. They might have got away with that ten or twenty years ago. They can no longer. If they pursue the notion that a member of parliament who comes from China poses an inherently greater risk than a judge from Canada, a policeman from northern Ireland, an army officer from South Africa, or a senior civil servant from India, then they will end up by fomenting widespread and justifiable resentment within the Chinese community, to the cost of all.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Geoff, thats a lot to digest, hence the delay but if to summarize i would put it thus.

    1. I'm not advocating any form of discrimination, saying someone is a security risk or having a government agency make a determination in the course of their work is not discriminatory in reference to a persons race way. Risk mitigation require some form of action be taken but not for reasons that are that kind of "discriminatory" unless all actions by that agency are considered discriminatory.

    2. There is a possibility for members of various communities in NZ to take issues with each other. However based on my own experiences (both in work and without) its more often the sub groups within communities which come into conflict with each other as they seek to have access or control to various things important to their cultural community. This was very particular when I was at Immigration and it meant that we had to treat complaints and "tip offs" very carefully lest we get sucked into something we could not get out of.

    3. When making a risk determination I usually do not consider their nationality except in the more extreme cases (like Yang and his links to Chinese military/Intelligence) if a Canadian became a MP and then was found to have the same kind of links and had sought to hide them as Yang has done my concerns would be identical.

    4.Yang's political orientation per se (be he a Marxist or not) is not part of any consideration of why he is a risk in this situation, his behavior and background is.

    5. Whether we like it or not (and I am mostly in the not camp) NZ is part of the 5-Eyes and therefore a person with intelligence links outside of that arrangement in a position such as Yang is going to be an issue, specially as he sought to hide them.

    6. NZs trading relationship with China is what it is because China is a major economic player and market, if it was not I don't think we would be as accommodating to China as we are because we were not so down on places like Zimbabwe et al.

    7. Yes most MPs are liars and i have called many others out on this blog for their lies before so in that sense Yang is getting the same treatment as all the rest and he cant use his ethnicity as a shield no more than any other person. His actions in withholding information about his past deserve serious scrutiny and if he chooses to play the race card as his defense then thats his choice but this is not a race issue.

    8. Not everyone is China is ethnically Chinese, just as not all Kiwis are ethnically European or Maori yet we can all be New Zealanders (politically/passport and nationally) without loosing our ethnic/cultural identity. Same for China.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you EA for your comprehensive reply in which you write:
      "1. ...having a government agency make a determination in the course of their work is not discriminatory in reference to a persons race way."
      I accepted that you were arguing for discrimination on the basis of nationality, not race, and in this context the word "discriminate" is non-pejorative.

      "2. There is a possibility for members of various communities in NZ to take issues with each other. However ... its more often the sub groups within communities which come into conflict with each other as they seek to have access or control to various things important to their cultural community....".
      Yes, antagonistic political, economic and personal interests may divide ethnic communities, while on the other side of the coin, shared political, economic and personal interests may provide positive links between disparate communities. My concern is not about conflict per se, but the potential for international conflicts and rivalries to spill over into dissension between ethnic groups in Aotearoa, which could, in the worst case, have explosive consequences. I think the attitude of the New Zealand political establishment to this risk is coloured in varying degrees by blind faith, utter ignorance, and cynical disregard.

      "3. When making a risk determination I usually do not consider their nationality except in the more extreme cases (like Yang and his links to Chinese military/Intelligence) if a Canadian became a MP and then was found to have the same kind of links and had sought to hide them as Yang has done my concerns would be identical."
      A Canadian (or British, US, Australian) immigrant with an intelligence background would not have to hide his or her past in order to become a citizen or MP, and if he or she did choose to conceal that background, the state and the news media would cooperate by not disclosing or publishing any information on the subject. Yang is treated differently because he is Chinese, not American, Canadian, British or Australian. Why was he advised not to publicly reveal his past? Possibly because his friends in China expected that he would face discrimination if he was open about his involvement with the Chinese intelligence apparatus. That kind of concealment is not at all unusual when people are moving to a country with different social values and political principles from their country of origin. Thousands of South African immigrants to this country are rather quiet about their past involvement with the apartheid era security forces in that country while others are quite open about it, but so far as I am aware none have been subject to media witch hunts or public vilification.

      Delete
  10. "4.Yang's political orientation per se (be he a Marxist or not) is not part of any consideration of why he is a risk in this situation, his behavior and background is".
    Perhaps it should not matter if an immigrant is a Marxist or a fascist, Muslim, Christian or atheist, liberal or conservative. Behaviour is more relevant than belief. But we have not seen any evidence in Yang's background of abuses. For example there is no evidence that he taught the kind of inhumane interrogation techniques used by New Zealand or its intelligence partners in the black prison or Camp X-ray. (If he had, no doubt the SAS would have found a use for him). We come back to the fact that he concealed his involvement with Chinese military intelligence, for which there may be a relatively innocent explanation. I don't excuse his misleading answers, but I can say from personal experience that one can pay a high price for being open about one's political beliefs in this country and thus I have some sympathy for the majority of commenters on this and other blogs who conceal their identities to protect themselves from the consequences of being open about their political beliefs and background, even while I argue that we must all have the courage to speak openly regardless of the consequences if we ever want to live in a free country under the rule of law.

    "5. Whether we like it or not (and I am mostly in the not camp) NZ is part of the 5-Eyes and therefore a person with intelligence links outside of that arrangement in a position such as Yang is going to be an issue, specially as he sought to hide them."
    Exactly. If Yang was from a 5-Eyes country there would be no problem.

    "6. NZs trading relationship with China is what it is because China is a major economic player and market, if it was not I don't think we would be as accommodating to China".
    I think that is right. The New Zealand state is pragmatic. It respects power more than principle. As a former New Zealand Prime Minister once said "our foreign policy is trade"

    "7. Yes most MPs are liars and i have called many others out on this blog for their lies before so in that sense Yang is getting the same treatment as all the rest and he cant use his ethnicity as a shield no more than any other person. His actions in withholding information about his past deserve serious scrutiny and if he chooses to play the race card as his defense then thats his choice but this is not a race issue."
    I think we have covered those issues, and I would just say that in Yang's case issues of race and nationality are confounded and rather harder to separate than would be the case for a person from, say, the United States of America.

    "8. Not everyone is China is ethnically Chinese, just as not all Kiwis are ethnically European or Maori yet we can all be New Zealanders (politically/passport and nationally) without loosing our ethnic/cultural identity. Same for China."
    It is actually not the same for China. The population of China does comprise many ethnic groups, apart from the Han Chinese majority. However culturally and demographically China is very different to multi-ethnic immigrant nations such as New Zealand or the United States. Relatively speaking, there are no numerically significant immigrant communities in China, and in the perception of the majority of Chinese, the people of China and the "overseas Chinese" are all "Chinese". So any discrimination against people who originate from China (i.e. people of Chinese nationality) is regarded as discrimination against the Chinese, and any argument to the contrary is deemed to be mere sophistry and equivocation. Between China and New Zealand we are dealing with a situation which is actually quite different, and is perceived quite differently.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I assume that appearance is actuality in the case of Jian Yang, and the simple facts are that he was employed by the military intelligence apparatus of the Peoples Republic of China, before moving to New Zealand and declaring a new allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II. Yang is the archetypal bureaucrat who pragmatically submits to the power of whatever regime rules at a given time and in a given place. There are millions of his kind in China, the former Soviet Union, and other communist states who have easily and smoothly transitioned from managing socialism to overseeing capitalism, and there are many of his pragmatic ilk in the New Zealand parliament and state service. If the Peoples Republic or the United States, say, were to invade and occupy this country chances are thousands of New Zealand public servants, politicians, military and police officers who are currently sworn in allegiance to Queen Elizabeth and the British colonial regime would see no reason to resist the demands of a new occupying power, and I doubt that Yang would be an exception. However, the regime is not troubled by such self-interested pragmatism, and indeed it welcomes people like Yang into its ranks, because the real threat to the security of the regime comes from patriotic idealists. So the long and the short of it, I suggest, is that the Hon Jian Yang MP presents no identifiable risk to the New Zealand state.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Did the Jian Yang affair signal the start of a campaign to isolate the Chinese community in New Zealand?
    On 6 December 2017 RNZ Morning Report ran an interview with "Canterbury University academic Anne-Marie Brady" "detailing Chinese government influence in New Zealand" and in which she "urged (New Zealand) to follow Australia's lead and tighten security laws".
    On 11 December Sydney, Australia based journalist Jamie Smyth wrote in the "Financial Times" of London "security experts say Beijing is stepping up a campaign to influence China’s growing diaspora in the Pacific nation and a host of other western countries. About 4 per cent of New Zealand’s population, or 171,411 people, identified themselves as ethnically Chinese in the 2013 census, with a further 19,000 Chinese citizens gaining residency over the past four years..."
    On 12 December 2017 RNZ Morning Report broadcast an interview with former Prime Minister Bill English in which it was noted that "Security chiefs have called for a wider conversation on the issue of foreign influence in New Zealand in the briefings to incoming ministers. They furthermore warned that Beijing had been showing activity in attempting to influence Chinese diaspora in New Zealand and other parts of the world."
    Who are the "security experts" and "security chiefs"?
    Is it not clear that in calling for a "wider conversation" and "a wider dialogue with the public" on Chinese influence the security chiefs are seeking to set New Zealand and the Peoples Republic of China at odds?
    Did the "security experts" make these comments to provoke communal tensions, or at least with reckless disregard for the potential damage to communal harmony in New Zealand? It is a matter of record that the New Zealand security services attempted to provoke violence between Maori and European over land rights issues in the aftermath of the Ruatoki raids. Are the security services now plotting further mischief?
    Has RNZ been colluding with the security services?
    Will the Labour-led government tolerate such political interference from its security services?
    Why did this story surface in the Financial Times, under the byline of a journalist based in Sydney?
    Who was the Sydney journalist's source?
    Have other New Zealand news media covered the story?
    If not, why not?
    The Chinese government has responded with the comment that “recently, many western countries have spontaneously become concerned about interference in their internal affairs”.
    Is the irony justified? Is there an orchestrated anti-Chinese campaign covering Australia, New Zealand and other states? If so, who is driving it?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Geoff: there might be an orchestrated campaign but its not being directed at Chinese immigrants or community and it would be better articulated as a security response to Chinese incursions into areas that any nation, china included, would not want any other sovereign power to tread.

    I will also have to differ that the NZ security services are attempting to stir up aggression against any Chinese communities in NZ, all concerns are clearly being directed at activities of the Chinese state or individuals like Yang.

    As for Labour, I think they will end up towing much the same line as National but the fact remains that China, like the US and others before it, is seeking influence in the region as its power expands and just as I dont appreciate the US trying to meddle in NZs affairs nor do i wish to have the Chinese doing so.

    The essential issue here is how much influence does NZ want (or will tolerate) from any foreign power and not something like the anti-Chinese bias that existed in the 19th century which was mostly racial. This is not the same thing.

    ReplyDelete