National Party list MP Dr Jian Yang has described a story published today questioning his loyalty to New Zealand as a "smear campaign by nameless people", but admitted he was once a civilian officer in the Chinese military.
The list MP fronted media this afternoon, after reading a prepared statement addressing what he says is "a smear campaign by nameless people who are out to damage me and the National Party 10 days from an election".
Asked what part of a news article published earlier today he found defamatory, Dr Yang replied: "Saying I’m a spy".
Asked by one journalist: "So just to be clear, are you a spy, have you ever been a spy?"
Dr Yang replied emphatically: "No".
Dr Yang denied he had provided any intelligence training in either the English department of the Chinese Air Force Engineering University or Luoyang foreign language institute where he worked in the 1980s.
"Both of them were simply teaching English language because there was no need to do any intelligence training, because these graduates did not go overseas," Dr Yang told those gathered.
Asked if he had held any rank in the Chinese army, Dr Yang replied: "I was a civilian officer, paid by the military but I had no ranks, I was a lecturer."
Dr Yang said he taught nothing else at the Chinese universities where he worked, other than English and American studies.
"I'm honest, I'm very honest. At the universities you just learn language," Dr Yang said.
In a statement which he read at the press conference Dr Yang said he had been "nothing but upfront and transparent about my education and employment".
"I challenge those who are propagating these defamatory statements to front up and prove them.”
Earlier, National Party leader Bill English said Dr Yang had been totally transparent.
"This is a New Zealand citizen. Dr Jian is a New Zealand citizen. The country is happy to have him as a citizen," Mr English said.
Mr English said he had been aware "from early on" that Dr Yang had had "military training, including military intelligence".
"He's never tried to hide that background.
"Until today, with these assertions, no one has questioned his loyalty in his activities as an MP."