Jian Yang’s valedictory statement


National MP Jian Yang delivered his valedictory statement:

Dr JIAN YANG (National): The 8th of August, just three days from now, will mark the ninth anniversary of my political career. Number eight is considered a lucky number by many Chinese. I’m supposed to be doubly lucky because the anniversary has double eights. I do think I have been lucky, but I’m not sure but I have been doubly lucky. On 8 August 2011, I received an unexpected call from National Party president Peter Goodfellow inviting me to stand in the upcoming general election. The first sentence I said to Peter was, “Thank you, but I have no interest.” Peter was somewhat taken aback but suggested that we should have a chat, and I agreed. My wife Jane was horrified when I told her about Peter’s invitation that evening. At that time, I was associate dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland. Jane was very much satisfied with our life and would hate being the wife of a politician. Her position was very clear: I would have to choose between her and politics. To me, the choice was obvious, so I was quite sure what my position was when I met Peter a few days later. Peter was very genuine and explained to me the importance of a Chinese MP to the National Party. In the end, I said politely to Peter that I would consider his invitation. I briefed Jane about my meeting with Peter, and that was it—I declined the party’s invitation.

However, Peter did not give up. I subsequently had two more meetings with the party’s leadership. I was touched by the sincerity of the party. I then consulted with a small circle of my friends and colleagues. My former head of department, who was a New Zealand politics expert, said to me, “If I were you, I would grab it with both hands.”

I realised that my military academy background in China could be an issue, so I brought up the issue with the party leadership in my meetings with them. I also clearly named Air Force Engineering University and the People’s Liberation Army Luoyang foreign language institute in my list candidate application form. I have been transparent to the party from the very beginning. As I said in my maiden speech nine years ago, I am a Kiwi made in China. I came to New Zealand in late February 1999. In 2004, I received my New Zealand citizenship and gave up my Chinese citizenship. I filled out my citizenship application form as required. Unlike it was being reported, I actually did not put down the civilian or partner universities in my citizenship application form.

However, I was not sure to what extent I had been accepted as a New Zealander until 2008. I joined a Track 1.5 security dialogue delegation to Tokyo and Beijing from late July to early August 2008. The delegation was organised by the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, or NZIIA. I joined the delegation as chair of the Auckland branch of the NZIIA and as an international relations scholar. Other members of the delegation included academics and retired senior diplomats. At a meeting with our Japanese counterparts, the head of delegation asked me to introduce New Zealand foreign policy. I was puzzled and said, “I don’t think I’m the right person to do this. I’m Chinese, and we have a few former New Zealand diplomats here.” A retired senior New Zealand diplomat immediately said to our Japanese counterparts, “Jian is the new face of New Zealand.”

A few days later, the New Zealand embassy in Beijing hosted the delegation and invited some Chinese experts to the function. Again, I was asked to introduce New Zealand foreign policy to Chinese guests. I said, “I have an identity problem. You are inviting a Chinese to talk about New Zealand foreign policy to Chinese experts in front of senior New Zealand diplomats.” The New Zealand ambassador then said, “Jian, I’ll ask you one question: what passport do you hold?” “New Zealand passport”, I said. “Then you are a New Zealander”, said the ambassador. From then on, I have never been troubled by my identity. I am a New Zealander.

Nevertheless, there have been speculations about my loyalty to New Zealand, and we have seen various conspiracy stories. Last September, I accompanied the then National leader Simon Bridges to visit China. We told our Chinese host that we would like to meet a Politburo member in Beijing. A few days before the meeting, we were told that Mr Guo Shengkun would meet the delegation. I did not really know Mr Guo’s portfolios. So I did a quick search online and discovered that he was in charge of justice and law and order. Back in New Zealand, conspiracy theories, however, claimed that I had organised a meeting between the National Party leader and the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s secret police. Simon, I’m sorry that you had to defend yourself—things went slightly off the plan.

Recently, it is claimed that I have not talked to English media for two years and that I only talk to Chinese media. The truth is, as the National spokesperson for statistics, I have talked to Radio New Zealand, Newstalk ZB, Stuff, Newshub, and other English media well over 10 times in the past 18 months or so, more than many backbenchers in this House. I only declined the media requests—English or Chinese—whose sole purpose was to question my loyalty to New Zealand. I have made it very clear that I have been loyal to New Zealand. I do not need to explain again.

It has been a great honour to represent New Zealand’s Chinese community as a National MP. I have put heart and soul into serving the community. I am pleased that I have been able to assist numerous Chinese constituents. I am proud that I have set up the Blue Dragons to better engage the Chinese community to support the National Party. I am also proud that I have enabled the Chinese community to better understand and participate in New Zealand’s democratic politics. It has been tremendously rewarding to be warmly received wherever I go in the Chinese community, and I am deeply grateful to the Chinese community for its consistent support to me.

As a first generation immigrant, I feel extremely privileged to be able to participate in the making of national policies and laws, and to chair two important select committees, the Education and Science Committee and the Governance and Administration Committee. I also had the opportunity to meet numerous outstanding New Zealanders, including those from the Chinese community. As a member of Parliament with Chinese heritage, I made my contribution to New Zealand – China relations. My trips to China with Rt Hon Sir John Key and various Ministers and colleagues are some highlights of my political career. I enjoyed each of these trips. There are many memorable moments, from meeting the Chinese President and Chinese Premier to seeing Paul Goldsmith’s facial expression when he was served a whole sea cucumber.

In March 2012, I accompanied Trade Minister Tim Groser to visit China. I helped organise a Chinese press conference before we left. Minister Groser happily announced to the Chinese media, “We will pay a visit to our old friend, Mr Bo Xilai.”, who signed the New Zealand – China free trade agreement when he was China’s Minister of Commerce. A few minutes later he received a message saying that Mr Bo had just been dismissed.

I am particularly grateful to Tim for his trust. While in China, Tim said that I could speak Chinese without being translated just to save time. “I trust you, and I want you to talk about your story to highlight the diversity of New Zealand society.”, Tim said. It didn’t work very well. New Zealand, as a nation, should have an informed debate about China. Superficial, ill-informed, and biased reports and commentaries about China will not serve our national interest well. As Professor Paul Clark concludes in his article published in the New Zealand Herald just a week ago, “Scaremongering is not the way to get real about China.” We do have some outstanding China experts in New Zealand with the academic integrity of being evidence-based, fair, and honest.

China experienced some turbulent and chaotic times in its contemporary history. Like many Chinese, my grandparents and parents suffered. As I mentioned in my maiden speech, my grandfather was a general of the Chinese Nationalist Party, China’s ruling party at that time. He was arrested and put into prison with the change of Government in 1949. My parents were sent to the countryside to be re-educated by the peasants during the great cultural revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. I myself would not be where I am had China not opened up and started its reforms in 1978. I am certainly not an exceptional case. A simple fact is that tens of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty since 1978.

It is time for me to thank those who have helped me in the past nine years. I cannot mention all of them. I thank all National Party board members, in particular, National Party President Peter Goodfellow for his support at every step. I thank my colleagues, particularly the year 2011 classmates. They have given me unfailing support over these years. I thank all Blue Dragons. Representatives from Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington, and Queenstown branches are here today. In particular, I thank Frank, Chris, and James. I thank the vibrant Chinese community, which has made a great contribution to this country. Some representatives are here today.

[Mandarin text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

I acknowledge my youth MP, Sally, who is here. She is following in my path and is doing her BA majoring in international relations. I also thank my friends Tony, Phil, and Ambassador Brown. I thank in my two assistants, Shu Kim and Shan. Not many MPs have not changed their staff for nine years. Shu Kim and Shan have been my loyal colleagues and most trustworthy advisers. I also thank Shan’s wife, Susu, and Shu Kim’s husband, Blair, and daughter Isabel. They have become our close family friends.

My parents and brothers who still live in China have always been supportive of me. My father is 90 years old with dementia and my mother is in a wheelchair. I have not joined them for Chinese New Year for nine years. Hopefully I will be able to do so for the coming Chinese New Year. Finally, I thank my wife Jane and two daughters, Suzie and Evelyn. My two girls have got used to me not being around. Evelyn just made it today. Apparently her biological sciences lab is more important than my ridiculous speech.

My wife, Jane, has been my strongest supporter during the most difficult time. This does not necessarily mean she liked my political life. She has always been a private person and values her privacy. I once told a shop owner that my wife often came to her shop. The shop owner later figured out who my wife was and asked Jane. Jane was so stressed that she stopped shopping there, and the shop closed down before long. Jane has come to Wellington only twice in nine years. Nine years ago, she was here for my maiden speech saying, “Take care.” Nine years later, she’s back for my valedictory speech, saying “Welcome home.”

Before I conclude, I would like to wish the National Party all the best. In terms of values, the Chinese community is very close to the National Party, and the National Party has been firmly supportive of the Chinese community. To our new leader, the Hon Judith Collins, I’m here to say you have my full support, Judith.

I’m proud of my Chinese heritage. I feel fortunate to have had the life-changing opportunity to study in Australia. Most importantly, I am privileged to be able to live in New Zealand, a truly great country, and one I call my home. It’s time for me to put down politics and enjoy life with my family. History will be the best judge of my nine years in the New Zealand Parliament. Thank you. Xiexie.

National’s refreshed responsibilities


Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.

Census debacle claims Stats NZ’s head’s head


The Government Statistician and Chief Executive of Stats NZ, Liz MacPherson has resigned after the release of the report reviewing last year’s census debacle.

“As leader of this organisation, I take full responsibility for the shortfalls identified in the report,” said Ms MacPherson.

“We were too optimistic, placed too much emphasis on the online census, and did not have robust contingency plans in place for when things started to go wrong. When that happened, problems were not escalated to a higher level. We also failed our Treaty partners because we did not convert engagement with Māori into actual census responses.

“Put simply, we didn’t make it easy enough for everyone to take part and that will be a key focus for the next census.

“As the reviewers say, we got some things wrong at a time of great change during the switch to a more digitally-focused data collection approach. I accept the findings. We let ourselves and New Zealand down. . .

This is a commendable display of accountability.

Accepting responsibility is appropriate and appreciated by Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke:

This is sad but the right thing to do in the circumstances. There has to be accountability in the public sector, especially in the case of a chief exec that earns over $400,000. Today we see an example of that.”

“Running a census every five years is Stats NZ’s largest responsibility. Taxpayers will expect the next chief exec to focus on this core service, which should mean directing resources away from the department’s more wishy-washy work like measuring ‘spiritual health’.”

There was little option by the head’s resignation when the report says:

. . .It is our view that weaknesses in overall governance and strategic leadership at the programme level led to a series of decisions, some influenced by the North Canterbury earthquake, that when taken together ultimately compromised the achievement of the investment objectives and several important key performance indicators. It is also our view that some elements of the programme design introduced unnecessary complexity that made it difficult to execute and for citizens to respond. . .

But shouldn’t the Stats Minister be accountable too?

Statistics Minister James Shaw needs to take responsibility for his part in the abysmal handling of the Census 2018 debacle, National’s Statistics spokesperson Dr Jian Yang says.

“The resignation of Chief Statistician Liz MacPherson is appropriate given how badly Census 2018 was botched. But she should not be a scapegoat for James Shaw whose failure to show leadership played a significant part in this mess.

“The Minister needed to be more involved in his department. He should have asked more questions of his Statistics NZ leadership team and demanded better results from them.

“But he chose to be a hands-off Minister instead. He was missing in action when things were going wrong – off on a Pacific Island junket while his officials were left to clean things up.

“He let things spiral out of control to the point where much of the data may no longer be useful. That creates enormous problems for the billions of dollars in funding for health, education, police and other vital services that depend on reliable Census numbers.

“This failure also has massive implications for the next election with reliable data required to draw accurate electoral boundaries and decide the number of seats in Parliament.

“James Shaw was too relaxed about the problem. He brushed off any criticism as ‘scaremongering’, but today’s damning report shows there were very real issues he wasn’t across.”

When a department is carrying out its major undertaking, and doing it differently, the Minister ought to take a much closer interest than he appeared to have done.

It would also have been better had Stats NZ taken a more cautious approach to expecting people to respond on-line.

We were in the area chosen for a trial of the on-line census in 2013.

Officially it went well but locals involved told me there were big holes, not least in central Oamaru where most of the large Tongan population went uncounted.

There ought to have been enough warning signs from that to have a lot more staff on the ground with paper forms and to ensure that at the very least households which didn’t return forms received personal visits.

Not everyone has access to a computer; some people who do, use them for little more than emails; others are loathe to use them for anything involving personal data.

The first nation-wide  on-line census would have been better had people been given a choice between filling in paper forms or doing it on-line.

It wasn’t and so we’ve got huge holes in information and more than a year’s delay in the first release of data which includes the population numbers required for the updating of electoral boundaries.

That means that parties either wait to do candidate selection or risk having to re-do some close to the election when, as inevitable, at least one new electorate is created and others undergo major boundary changes.

Worse still, funding for health, education and social services are being compromised with no reliable population data.

This has been a very sorry saga the only good from which will be if lessons learned bring changes that ensure the next census results in a much better response rate and better data sooner.

Jian Yang’s maiden speech


National list MP Jian Yang delivered his maiden speech on Thursday.

Some of the highlights are in bold:

Mr Speaker,

As a Chinese who immigrated to New Zealand only 13 years ago, I feel extremely honoured standing here before you all to give my Maiden Statement today. 

Firstly,I would like to thank the Chinese community for their encouragement and support. 广大的华人华侨朋友们,我感谢你们的一贯支持和厚爱。这一刻也属于你们。(Dear fellow Chinese, I thank you for your consistent support.  This moment belongs to you as well).

I am grateful to my colleagues at the University of Auckland, particularly the staff of the Department of Political Studies. Special thanks go to Professor Barry Gustafson and Professor Raymond Miller, from whom I learned a great deal about New Zealand politics, and who both encouraged me to step out of theoretical politics and into realpolitics.

 I thank the Board directors of the National Party for their trust. In particular, I thank our President Peter Goodfellow. I cannot overstate Peter’s help in the past few months.

I also thank my Party colleagues for their warm welcome and support.

And I thank the Prime Minister for his trust and guidance.

Most of all, I thank my family; my parents in China who cannot be here today and my wife Jane and my daughters Suzie and Evelyn. I fully understand the sacrifices my family have to make, and it was not an easy decision to leave the Ivory Tower and jump into the turbulent sea of real politics. Thank you Jane, Suzie and Evelyn for your love and trust.

Mr Speaker, as the Prime Minister noted in his first speech to the new parliament, the National Party was the first party in New Zealand to have a Chinese MP. I would like to take this opportunity and acknowledge the achievement of Hon Pansy Wong.

My election into Parliament lays down yet another milestone in the history of Chinese immigrants in New Zealand. I am the first National MP who is an immigrant from mainland China.

The Chinese community in New Zealand has experienced rapid growth in the past two to three decades. We are attracted by, among other things, New Zealand’s second-to-none environment, democratic political system, equal economic opportunities and stable society.

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.

In the first thirty years of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese government launched one political movement after another, climaxing with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution beginning in 1966. The Revolution left behind millions of political victims, including my parents, who were sent to the countryside to be re-educated by peasants.

In 1978, under the rule of Deng Xiaoping, China made the historic decision to reform and open up. Capitalism began to flourish Deng’s virtue of pragmatism is highlighted by his most famous quotation “I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat. It’s a good cat as long as it catches mice.” In that same year of 1978, I passed the newly-restored higher education examination and became part of the small group of high-school graduates who went on to university.

The change in China since 1978 has been awe-inspiring. China today is a different world. But the journey has certainly not all been smooth. In April 1989, a great opportunity was opened up for me when I received a scholarship from the John Hopkins University in America. However, in the weeks following, student demonstrations swept China. The Chinese government’s policy change afterwards prevented me from leaving to study in the United States.

Fortunately for China, after a period of hesitation the government decided to continue its reformation. In 1994 I started my postgraduate study in Australia, and in 1999 I completed my PhD and began my work at the University of Auckland.

My experiences reiterate the inescapable influence of politics on our lives, and greatly contrast the deep value placed on political rights and freedom that we enjoy in New Zealand. For this reason, I appreciate the National Party’s commitment to democratic principles and individual freedom and choice.

Politics and economics are two areas difficult to differentiate. Between 1949 and 1978, China was a socialist country with a planned economy. The Chinese people were called upon to march towards a Communist utopia; where everyone should contribute to society to the best of his or her ability, and consume from society in proportion to his or her need, that is, “From each according to his ability, toeach according to his need.”

Socialist economic policies did not aid China. 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. 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.

By 1978, the Chinese economy was on the verge of collapse. It was at that critical moment that the Chinese government started economic reforms, salvaging the economy just in time. Market economy was introduced. Entrepreneurship was encouraged. The irrational pursuit of income equality was abolished. A popular official slogan at the time was “shui xian fu, shui guang rong 谁先富,谁光荣” meaning “It is glorious to become rich before others.”

We are all aware of China’s enormous economic growth since that pivotal year of 1978. China has risen to become the second largest economy in the world. The Chinese government has successfully lifted millions of people out of poverty.

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. We give priority to economic growth. And to achieve this growth, we emphasise the importance of personal responsibility, competitive enterprise and reward for achievement. These are all values shared by the Chinese community and many other New Zealanders.

The Chinese were the third racial group to settle in New Zealand, after the Maori and European. Most of them came as gold miners in the second half of the 19th century. Historian Michael King said “Once in New Zealand, the Chinese who persisted despite the poll tax and considerable prejudice proved themselves to be law-abiding and hard-working citizens.”

We should not undervalue the contributions of the Chinese community to New Zealand. Not only has the Chinese community contributed economically, they have also enriched the lives of all New Zealanders through the celebration of Chinese arts, cuisine and traditions. Every year about 200,000 people from different ethnic communities came to the Auckland Lantern Festival as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

To the Chinese, strong work ethics coupled with good education are the two key elements to success. Surveys show that Chinese immigrants are often well educated, and it is no secret that Chinese children generally do well at school. The New Zealand Herald noted in April last year that “If education is our future, Chinese minds will be prominent in shaping New Zealand’s destiny.” This again reinforces the Chinese community’s vital role in the future development of our country. The Chinese community’s value in education echoes that of the National Party. We are committed to offering the best education to all New Zealanders, and we believe education provides the ability for all to move forward.

Despite the successes of the Chinese in New Zealand, all new immigrants need time to adapt to a new country. Considering their Eastern cultural background, it may be more challenging for Chinese immigrants to adapt to our mainly Western society. It is in the best interests of all for us to give them more support in this respect.

On the other hand, all immigrants should themselves try to integrate. Chinese immigrants are no exception. Members of the Chinese community should not only learn the languages and cultures of mainstream society, but also be willing to sacrifice for the country.

It is pleasing to note the global trend among overseas Chinese is to move away fromluoye guigen 落叶归根, “fallen leaves return to the roots”, but towards luodi shenggen落地生根, “to grow roots where they land”.The mentality of sojournism is no longer dominant. Many Chinese, including my family, gave up their Chinese citizenship and proudly became New Zealand citizens.  Mr Speaker, we are Kiwis, although made in China.

The Chinese immigrants do have a strong desire for recognition and integration, which is why they have been actively involved in philanthropy and politics. They have been generous in their donations to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. There were also a record number of Chinese candidates in the most recent general election.

Mr Speaker, I feel truly honored to be a National Party representative of the Chinese community. I hope to see more Chinese in Parliament as the community is still under represented.

Mr Speaker, the rise of China has given New Zealand an ideal opportunity. China is now our second largest trading partner. Our trade with East Asia, especially China, played a crucial role in our effort to deal with the global financial crisis in recent years. In this respect, Chinese residents’ connection with China is a great asset to New Zealand. The connection has generated many economic opportunities and there is still a great potential.

As a Chinese immigrant, I will act as a bridge between the Chinese community and our mainstream society. I will also endeavour to contribute to the strengthening of New Zealand’s relations with China.

What is more, my background and experiences render me capable of making contributions in many other areas, be it education, foreign affairs, ethnic affairs, or health. 

To conclude, the values held by me and many Chinese New Zealanders are parallel to those of the National Party and other New Zealanders. These include equal citizenship and equal opportunity, individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility, and reward for achievement. As a father of two, I see it as my responsibility to provide a safe and prosperous environment for my children to grow up in. With the National Party, I look forward to a brighter future.  Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The video is here.


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