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China sends chills through South Pacific politics

Suspicion over New Zealand MP stokes fears of widespread meddling

SYDNEY -- Controversy swirling around a China-born member of New Zealand's parliament is raising larger questions about Beijing's drive to become a dominant force in the South Pacific.

Winston Peters, New Zealand's deputy prime minister, on Dec. 20 called for an investigation of Jian Yang, a National Party MP who previously spent 10 years working for Chinese military intelligence. Yang stands accused of lobbying ministers to reconsider a block on security clearance for a defense force applicant -- an allegation he denies. Peters also blasted the opposition National Party which Yang belongs to, for relying on foreign donations.

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