Kiwis Right to Be Concerned Over Spy Claims

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Mr English will speak to the media at 3.15pm today, and Dr Yang is scheduled to have a press conference today at 4.30pm.

A China-born MP for New Zealand's ruling party has denied being a spy after it emerged that he had spent years studying and teaching in universities with links to Chinese intelligence services.

Dr Yang has been a key fund-raiser for the party among the the country's large Chinese community.

He called himself a victim of a "smear campaign by nameless people" out to damage him and the party just before the Sept 23 general election, which is expected to be a tight race.

Yang challenged "those who are propagating these defamatory statements" to front up and prove them.

In its report, Newsroom said he went to Australia and attended the Australian National University before moving to New Zealand, where he taught worldwide relations at the University of Auckland.

On Wednesday, Newsroom reported Dr Yang had studied and taught at the People's Liberation Army-Air Force Engineering College.

Sources told Newsroom this meant Dr Yang would have been a member of the Communist Party and an officer in the Chinese army's military intelligence.

But he said Yang had never tried to hide that he had had military and intelligence training in China, saying that it did not bring his loyalty to New Zealand into question. He then went on to the Luoyang Foreign Languages Institute, an elite institution for China's military intelligence officers, the report added.

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"If you define those cadets or students as spies, yes, then I was teaching spies", he said.

Yang moved from China to Australia where he attended university in Canberra.

There's no suggestion Dr Yang ever worked as a spy. "[But] I don't think [they were spies] ..."

He said his students only collected information through communications in China.

The National party president, Peter Goodfellow, defended his MP after Wednesday's revelations.

National leader Bill English says he was aware early into Dr Yang's political career, which began when he was elected as a list MP in 2011. However, in a Chinese-language interview with the Financial Times, Yang reportedly asked repeatedly that information about his academic past in China be omitted from any article about him.

"He's functioned appropriately as a member of parliament and there hasn't been a question about his loyalty to New Zealand", English told Radio NZ.

"By the year of my birth, in 1962, China had wiped out private ownership ... a horrific starvation had just passed with the deaths of millions of people ... by 1978 the Chinese economy was on the verge of collapse".

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