New Zealand media broke the story last week that the country’s two major political parties quickly dumped Chinese lawmakers in their respective parties with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party on the eve of last year’s general election after being warned by intelligence agencies.
Media reports and the public have questioned for years that the two MPs maintained close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and the Communist Party’s United Front Organization. New Zealand’s intelligence agencies have also been widely criticized for their lack of action, and the involvement of intelligence authorities in the resignation of the two MPs is believed to be the beginning of a purge of Chinese Communist espionage in New Zealand after pressure from the Five Eyes Coalition intelligence agencies.
The two Chinese-born MPs from China are Jian Yang of the National Party and Raymond Huo of the Labor Party. The former was exposed by international media in 2017 as having trained spies for the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Liberation Army Academy and brought the party leader to China in 2019 to meet with Guo Shengkun, secretary of the Communist Party’s Political and Legal Committee; the latter is the president of the Communist Party’s “One Belt, One Road” New Zealand Research Association, and had Xi Jinping’s signed copy of “Xi Jinping on the Theory of Governance” auctioned off for NZ$150,000 (US$109,000). The latter is the president of the Chinese Communist Party’s “Belt and Road” research association in New Zealand.
Yang Jian was exposed by international media in 2017 as having trained spies for the Chinese Communist Party’s PLA Academy. Pictured here is a lengthy in-depth report and editorial in the NZ Herald on the Yang Jian case in November 2017. (Yi Fan/The Epoch Times)
Intelligence Agencies Move in, Two Political Parties Quickly Cut Seats
On the eve of last year’s election, on July 10 and July 21, Yang Jianqiang and Fok Jianqiang resigned, and it was suspected at the time that the reason they gave to the outside world – “to spend time with their families” – was not the real reason for their resignation.
On May 26, veteran journalist Richard Harman, who is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said that the resignation was not the real reason. On May 26, Richard Harman, a veteran journalist, wrote an article on his personal political website, Politik, revealing that Labor Party leader and current Prime Minister Jacinda Arden had resigned. The leader of the Labor Party, the current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the then leader of the National Party, Todd Muller, have been appointed to the post. After receiving a briefing from New Zealand’s intelligence agencies, Todd Muller agreed to cut his seat with Fok and Yang respectively, and then both announced their resignation from parliament in less than two weeks’ time, not seeking re-election.
In the article, Harman said he was informed of the real reason for their resignations by multiple officials and sources, but did not specifically name the person who provided the information.
The day after the Politik article broke the news, Matthew Hooton, a political adviser to then-New Zealand National Party leader Mueller, said he was informed of the resignations by multiple officials and sources. In a personal column in the New Zealand Herald, Matthew Hooton, a political adviser to then-New Zealand National Party leader Mueller, confirmed that the departures were the result of intelligence agencies’ involvement and revealed more information. He wrote that the two party leaders and their respective chiefs of staff met with the intelligence agencies to reach an agreement to let Fok and Yang out of office, and discussed how to make their departure as little “fuss” as possible.
Prime Minister Arden was questioned by the media last week and said that he would “neither affirm nor deny the intelligence agency’s briefings”; meanwhile, the incumbent national party leader Judith Collins said that she would not be able to give a reply. The current national party leader Judith Collins (Judith Collins) refused to comment to the media on the matter.
Chen Weijian: Five Eyes Coalition Pressures Intelligence Agencies to Act
Jason Young, director of the Center for Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Victoria in New Zealand, said in a statement on the local scene. In a local television interview, Jason Young argued that Fok and Yang had already drawn too much media criticism and social skepticism to their respective parties, and that keeping the two would affect their partisan interests.
Prominent New Zealand author and dissident Chen Weijian said that media and public opinion were not the real reason, but that their proxies for the Chinese Communist Party had seriously jeopardized New Zealand’s national security interests and cooperation with the Five Eyes Alliance, and that New Zealand’s intelligence agencies had been pressured by the Five Eyes Alliance to act.
He said, “Yang Jian and Huo Jianqiang’s New Zealand links with the CCP are both active and high profile, and have been exposed in the media for many years, but sheltered by their party hierarchy, New Zealand’s intelligence agencies have always listened. The fact that they are only now starting to act must be due to pressure from the Five Eyes Coalition.”
He went on to explain, “Because of their dependence on China for trade exports, New Zealand’s two major political parties are all pro-Communist, which means there is little opposition within the New Zealand Parliament on such major international issues as countering Chinese Communist infiltration, control of New Zealand, and Chinese Communist persecution of human rights. Yang Jian and Huo Jianqiang, as agents of the Chinese Communist Party, hold the two parties respectively, and they do not monitor each other, and even lead the government to alienate itself from the Five Eyes Coalition.”
He also revealed that before the 2020 election he had learned from reliable sources that Huo and Yang had been promised by their respective parties that they would be promoted and promised important positions after the election. He thus believes that “the rapid resignation of the two men in such a short period of time can only be the result of the intervention of the intelligence services.”
New Zealand’s intelligence agencies have been criticized in the media over the past few years for being out of touch with their counterparts in the Five Eyes Coalition and for doing nothing about Communist espionage and infiltration in New Zealand. But the outside world began to change its mind after the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) released its 2020 report in March of this year.
In the report, the agency listed foreign interference for the first time as a priority option to change the intelligence agency’s as an investigation, and cited two cases of suspected intelligence gathering and lobbying for foreign governments already in the intelligence agency’s possession in the report.
Chen Weijian said that Huo and Yang were not the only spies or agents arranged by the Chinese Communist Party in New Zealand. He believes intelligence agencies should also investigate Naisi Chen, a Chinese MP who entered parliament in the 2020 general election. Naisi Chen, who became an MP through party ranking, was once president of the Chinese Students’ Association at the University of Auckland, the Communist Party’s overseas student unification group.
He questioned, “As a Chinese who grew up in New Zealand and is a New Zealand citizen, how did Naisi Chen become the president of the Chinese Students’ Society; as a young man who grew up influenced by Western values, why is he preaching ideas that represent the Chinese Communist Party?”
Two Chinese MPs have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party
Before resigning, the National Party’s Yang Jian had been an MP for more than a decade, while the Labor Party’s Fok Kin Keung had also sat in a backbench seat in Parliament for seven years. Both were not directly elected from their constituencies, but were elected to Parliament as ranking members in accordance with New Zealand’s mixed electoral system, based on the proportion of votes each party received.
During their several years in Parliament, both men had little opportunity to speak in parliamentary debates, but they made frequent appearances at events of Communist Chinese embassies and consulates and pro-Communist United Front groups.
A joint investigation by the Financial Times and New Zealand’s Newsroom.co.nz catapulted Yang Jian into international headlines two weeks before New Zealand’s September 2017 general election. The investigation found that Yang had studied, taught and trained spies at two Chinese PLA schools, but that Yang had not truthfully declared his curriculum vitae when he submitted his immigration and citizenship applications, concealing his experience training spies at the PLA Language Institute.
New Zealand’s University of Canterbury China scholar Anne-Marie B. K., a former member of the Chinese government, said that she had been a spy for the PLA. Anne Marie Brady In her 2017 report “Magic Weapons,” Professor Anne Marie Brady cited several instances of close interaction between Yang Jian and Huo Jianqiang and the Chinese Communist government and the Communist Party’s United Front organization in New Zealand.
In addition to his support for the CCP’s “One Belt, One Road” with Yang Jian, Professor Brady notes in the report that while Huo’s pro-communist activities have received less exposure in the Chinese media than Yang Jian’s, Huo has actually been more open and widespread in his efforts to promote CCP policies in New Zealand.
The report mentions a campaign organized by Fok for the current mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff. A copy of Xi Jinping on the Theory of Governance, signed by Xi Jinping, was auctioned off for NZ$150,000 (US$109,000) at a campaign fundraiser for the incumbent mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, and the largely Chinese party raised over NZ$360,000 (US$188,000).
In an article on the Beijing Spring website last week, prominent New Zealand writer and dissident Chen Weijian said that Huo Jianqiang had set up a “Belt and Road” research association in New Zealand in line with the Communist Party’s Belt and Road global expansion and had appointed himself president.
According to Chen Weijian, mainstream New Zealand society has respect for Tibetan culture and religion and sympathy for the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Tibetans’ human rights and beliefs, but Huo is trying to change the values of New Zealanders by promoting the values of the Chinese Communist Party in New Zealand.
He cited that Huo had prevented New Zealand from inviting the Dalai Lama to visit by telling New Zealanders that the Dalai Lama was a separatist and a slave master, among other things, to spread Chinese Communist rhetoric. In September 2019, he also brought the Communist Party-backed “Old and New Tibet” exhibition to New Zealand.