It’s really pretty sick when you think back on what Yang Jian and his family would have been through, KMT family members (Yang’s grandfather was a KMT General) were pariah still in the 80s to the extent that they’d be pointed at and whispered about in the neighbourhood.
The expectation that Chinese people as a culture might in any way be predisposed to dredging up humanitarian disasters they’ve lived through or criticising the CCP or is so culturally and historically tone-deaf that I’d wager we’ve gone full hillbilly.
oh and Reddell’s:
but never mentions the dreadful evil of the Great Famine,
From the maiden speech:
By the year of my birth in 1962, China had wiped out private ownership in an effort to build a socialist economy. A horrific famine had just passed with the death of millions of people.
What a fucking hatchet job by Pākehā of privilege, as he goes on to say:
In those years, everyone was equal but everyone was poor. The most spectacular present that I received for my 10th birthday was two eggs for breakfast.
Indeed, it’s peppered with cold war rhetoric, false equivalence and a big old dose of the splain. How could Yang have neglected to mention The Great Famine…? The cheek.
The irony being that as per regulations in that era – 2 generations post revolution as it were – it’s his grandfather’s membership of the KMT that would have automatically precluded him from been allowed to advance in any meaningful way within the military or the state. The military or state at that time of course being the only employers.
Fortunately our democracy is better than that. ;)
One thing that interested me, from the sprawling section where Reddell explains all the things that Yang should have said (if he were a loyal New Zealander):
But what of Jian Yang? I had a look yesterday at his maiden speech in Parliament, delivered in February 2012. Maiden speeches are often an occasion for a new member to outline their personal philosophy, and the things that made them who they are, and led them to seek to enter politics. A few are classics – I recall being taught from Sir John Marshall’s in my first year politics course decades ago.
Read without knowing he’d been a member of the Communist Party (well under 10 percent of China’s citizens are), or had been a serving participant in the intelligence establishment, it might seem inoffensive enough, although still a little surprising. To serious champions of liberty, the Tianamen Square protests and subsequent government massacres stand as a continuing charge against the Chinese state and Party. How does Yang deal with them? (they disrupted his plans for graduate study abroad) They are nothing more than “student demonstrations”.
He can safely be mildly critical of the Cultural Revolution – his parents were apparently sent to the countryside for “re-education” – but never mentions the dreadful evil of the Great Famine, one of the worst man-made (Chinese government made) disasters ever. There are boilerplate references to his support for opportunity and choice, but no attacks on the evil of the one-child policy, still in place at the time Yang gave his speech. Nothing about the lack of freedom of expression, the lack of freedom of religion, the lack of any free alternative to the Communist Party in China. Instead, we get paeans to the “success” of the Chinese government in “lifting millions of people out of poverty”, as if the same government hadn’t driven them unnecessarily further into poverty in the first place – and he has the gall to suggest that “reflecting on the way in which China has achieved its positive change and development gives me a firm belief that the policies of the National Party are in the best interests of New Zealand.”
And for someone with an academic background in international relations and an expressed interest in contributing on foreign affairs matters in Parliament, nothing at all about Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, or its advocacy internationally of alternative visions of governance antithetical to liberal democracy.
It is one thing to be proud of your ethnic background – and China has an ancient culture that once led the world – but Yang showed absolutely no sign of having turned his back on, or a desire to call out, the evils of a repressive authoritarian party and government that has never recanted its mistakes, that has failed economically (compare Taiwan and China for example) and which represents a threat to us, and to countries (and believers in freedom) throughout east Asia.
And it wasn’t just the maiden speech. As the Financial Times notes, since entering Parliament “he has consistently pushed for closer ties with Beijing and for international policies and positions echoing those of China’s Communist party."
I can’t think of any offhand but perhaps someone has examples of a Labour or National MP speaking out about the atrocities committed (and that continue to be committed) in China in anything but the vaguest pedestrian obligatory terms this century? Might Shearer have spoken up on issues of this nature while in Government?
Would it be out-on-a-limb to suggest that Yang here is being criticised for basically following what has been the standard New Zealand Foreign Policy line over successive administrations due to his origins?
You’d think it might have been an opportunity to openly criticise the authoritarian regime (being able to use the insider’s perspective he’d gained in his misguided youth) that he had turned his back on in choosing to come to New Zealand. But apparently not.
Yes isn’t it peculiar how banal things likely family loyalty may come to play as an influence in not publicly speaking out against an authoritarian regime in case the authoritarian regime ends up doing exactly what authoritarian regimes tend to do, to your family members.
The fact that Reddell selectively omitted this piece of family history from his analysis of Yang’s maiden speech is disappointing:
Mr Speaker, as an immigrant who witnessed and experienced the many political upheavals in China, I do not take any of the benefits I’m enjoying now for granted. My grandfather was a general of the Nationalist Party, or KMT, which is today the ruling party in Taiwan. When the Communist Party came to power in China in 1949, my grandfather lost all his property, was imprisoned and lived in poverty for the rest of his life.
Personally I'm not convinced that it's all that helpful to attempt to erase the difference between being a cryptographer in the US military and being an English and American Studies lecturer at a Chinese military college.
He’s fluent in Mandarin, because he’s racist ..
in context of this election campaign, accounting for Labour’s previous targeting of Chinese people earlier on, and in light of the the timing and likely outcomes this far out, Jamil has certainly not done himself any favours in that regard.
I’m amused (?) that the legs this story has highlight a lack of public confidence in both the DIA and the SIS; the entire narrative based the assumption that our immigration and intelligence organisations are hopelessly incompetent*, more incompetent than the spy who didn't think to adequately cover his tracks..
I don’t think the Financial Times is controlled by the NZ-LabourBot, but never mind.
"Newsroom has worked with the Financial Times in Hong Kong to investigate Yang’s background."
Are you implying guilt by association with China and suggesting this is purely a racist smear?
The left smearing Chinese people based on poor information? Not out of the question. One of the CCP’s 80+ million members, taught at a military academy followed by a languages university? Holding a non-combatant military rank? None of these things are particularly unusual.