The good news of the morning was that Jian Yang will be leaving Parliament at the election. Perhaps the only disappointing aspect is that he didn’t stick around to be voted out, but at least he will be gone, and our Parliament will no longer have a CCP member, former part of the PRC military foreign intelligence system, champion of the evil Party/state in its ranks. Oh, and someone who acknowledged that he had actively misrepresented his past – on instructions from his PRC bosses – to get residency and citizenship here in the first place. In any decent country he’d not have been in Parliament in for long in the first place – a decent party wouldn’t have selected him, decent opposition parties would have made his political position untenable, and once alerted to his acknowledged lies about his past the relevant authorities would have acted to prosecute him, perhaps even deport him. But this is New Zealand.
A party with a modicum of decency, prioritising some values higher than soliciting donations and doing trade deals with a barbaric repressive regime, might even have insisted that Jian Yang step aside when he past become very public. But this was the New Zealand National Party.
And although Jian Yang is finally going, it appears to have been his own doing. Perhaps the unease about his past has become such that (a) he could not really hope to go any higher in politics, and (b) his presence was only going to be lightning rod for discontent. And no serious person was likely to say anything much sensitive in his presence, given his known close ties to the PRC Embassy. It can’t be that the grind of endless interviews with the critical media wore him out: he’s not given any. Perhaps he can be more use to National now, bringing in the donations, away from the spotlight of Parliament?
Whatever his reasons, there is not a thing to suggest that it was National that had finally done the decent thing. After all, recall that a few months ago he was promised one of the list places specially designated by the party’s Board (recall that he announced that only to the Chinese language media). Recall too that when Todd Muller took over Jian Yang was pushed a few more places up the caucus rankings, and left in place as chair of a select committee. And perhaps more telling still, it was only a few days ago that Todd Muller was defending Jian Yang, with arguments so thin they can only have been the words of someone determined to follow in the unworthy tradition of Bill English and Simon Bridges, championing the presence of Jian Yang in Parliament. There was no sign the party was about to turn him out – and, of course, Jian Yang has had close ties to the party president Peter Goodfellow, himself as shamefully obsequious to the PRC/CCP as they come.
Here were some of Muller’s remarks reported by Newshub earlier this week. Asked about Jian Yang’s refusal to answer questions from the English-language media, Muller apparently responded this way
Muller says it’s not true that Dr Yang is avoiding the media because he has fronted on issues to do with statistics.
“He’s done close to 10 in the last 18 months in his role as spokesperson for statistics across all the various media outlets,” Muller told Magic Talk on Monday. “This view that he’s somehow not fronting for media isn’t correct.”
The last time Dr Yang released an English media statement was almost a year ago when Stats NZ’s Chief Statistician Liz MacPherson resigned over the handling of the 2018 Census.
“He’s made very clear statements to the media in the past… He’s statistics spokesperson so I would think that’s fair that when he talks to the media it’s in that context,” Muller said.
Talk about deliberately obtuse. As Muller knows very well, the legitimate media interest in Jian Yang has nothing to do with Statistics New Zealand (not that he had done that well in that minor role – has anyone heard anything from him in recent months on the inadequacies of our official statistics?).
Then there was this
Muller said Dr Yang has been transparent about his past.
“He’s been very clear in the past in terms of his history and the length of time he’s been in New Zealand. Obviously one of the key points is when he left the Communist Party, he left 26 years ago. These things tend to want to be trawled over again.”
As Muller knows very well, you don’t just leave the CCP – especially having worked in the military intelligence system – by failing to pay the annual membership fee. And as for the preposterous claim that he had been transparent about his past…….it was only after six years in Parliament and sustained journalistic investigative work that that past was finally revealed to the public. Since then, Jian Yang has avoided any serious questioning, but simply refusing to engage. Some transparency.
The article reminds us of Jian Yang’s close ties to Beijing
In October 2019 Dr Yang was one of 50 New Zealanders who were invited to attend the CCP’s 70th anniversary celebrations in the Chinese capital.
He also accompanied former National leader Simon Bridges on a trip to China where a meeting was set up with Guo Shengkun, described as head of China’s ‘secret police’.
Playing down that latter point somewhat; Jian Yang was apparently instrumental in arranging the meeting, such are his ties to the evil regime.
And then Muller’s values-free approach is put fully on display
Muller pushed back against criticism of Dr Yang’s ties to the CCP.
“It’s a massive country for us in terms of trade and relationships and my experience in the context of all the corporate export roles I’ve had is that as you build relationships with people in China, they are members of the Communist Party – that’s sort of how it works, right?
“You end up having conversations and building deep relationships with people who have roles in the Communist Party and China because that’s their system.”
Well, perhaps….but this isn’t Beijing, this isn’t where the writ of the CCP is supposed to run, this is the New Zealand Parliament.
In a way though it is almost a little unfortunate that Jian Yang will soon be gone. He was the visible and particularly stark tip of the iceberg, but almost beside the point as this late stage. The real issue is the wider National Party deeply deferential approach to Beijing, and its refusal to make a stand on any issue of the excesses of that regime. This is the way I put it last week.
The real issue now isn’t about Jian Yang’s own choices, but about the rest of our political system (and much of our media for that matter). It clearly suits Jian Yang to avoid any English-language media – he is, after all, elected by all National Party voters, not just a few CCP-aligned ethnic Chinese one – but if the leadership of the National Party had even an ounce of decency on these issues it really wouldn’t be Jian Yang’s choice at all. It would be as simple as “front up, honestly and fully, pretty whenever you are asked, and if not well forget about any caucus seniority, in fact forget about a list place at all at the next election”. No one doubts that if any of that succession of leaders had wanted Jian Yang to be accountable to the public and to voters he’d do so, or he’d be gone. So his silence is the silence of Bill English, Simon Bridges and now Todd Muller. The same “leaders” who’ve been, for example, utterly unbothered by Todd McClay’s defence of the Uighur concentration camps, and who utter not a word about the activities of the PRC/CCP at home, abroad, or here. Totally sold-out.
Jian Yang might soon be gone, but Todd Muller, Simon Bridges, Gerry Brownlee, Todd McClay and Peter Goodfellow are still very much in place. There is no sign that the mindset has shifted even slightly. Quite probably with Jian Yang having gone, National will wheel up another ethnic Chinese candidate whose acceptability will be based on his ties to the PRC embassy and his ability to work the rooms of the various United Front bodies here for party funding, but whose CV will presumably look a bit less obviously egregious than Jian Yang’s came to be. This is, after all, the party that went soliciting donations for CCP affiliate Yikun Zhang and his mates, and had one of his CCP associates as part of their candidates college, preparing the ground for a bid for a place on National’s list.
It is one of those times when the excesses of the CCP/PRC are becoming ever more obvious to anyone not determined to keep their eyes wide shut. But there is no sign of any shift in stance from National, no sign of any moral leadership – in fact, over the last couple of years they’d be the first to complain if the current government, itself not great over the PRC, showed any slight hints of backbone. This is the disgraceful party that has a senior MP on record suggesting the Uighur concentration camps are no one’s affair but China’s. These people, and their business/university allies, seem to have no moral core. Even around Hong Kong we’ve heard only the feeblest, most reluctant, of comments from Muller.
Is there some hope in the fact that Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor is now part of the interparliamentary alliance on China (together with Labour Louisa’s Wall)? I guess it is better than nothing, but there is nothing anywhere to suggest that the National leadership group is at all happy about such modest independence of thought. Then again, I’m not aware that any of the media have asked Muller or Foreign Affairs spokesman Bridges what they make of the IPAC and of O’Connor’s membership and calls. Given that O’Connor is Bridges’ brother-in-law I guess that might be a little awkward. But it would seem to be a fair question just a few weeks out from an election, as the PRC becomes more aggressive, more threatening (including in their attempts to criminalise anyone anywhere in the world criticising the regime).
It is good that Jian Yang will soon have gone. But the deeper issues around the corruption of New Zealand politics – National and Labour particularly on this score – haven’t changed a jot. Neither party has done anything to fix the electoral donations from CCP affiliates scandal, and both seem more intent on donations flowing than on the sort of values most New Zealanders hold, including the many ethnic Chinese New Zealanders who deplore almost everything to do with the CCP. And if they are dragged occasionally to utter a mild word of criticism for the latest PRC abuse, you always get the sense it is reluctant, not born of any conviction whatever.
(After 5-6 weeks of ill-health my troublesome bug is finally abating. However, we’ll be on holiday next week so no more posts until Monday week.)