New Zealand public servant accused of spying for China

New Zealand's public service and spy agency minister has refused to confirm a senior public servant has been stood down after providing information to China.

News outlet Stuff has reported Yuan Zhao, a Chinese-born New Zealand citizen, was grilled by New Zealand's Security Intelligence Service (SIS) last year,

Mr Zhao, who also goes by Jason, has held a number of senior analyst roles within the public service in the past decade.

He alleges he was interviewed at Wellington Airport by SIS personnel in October after a trip to Australia and had his phone seized for a month.

Mr Zhao continues to live in Wellington and maintains his innocence, lodging a complaint with New Zealand's intelligence watchdog.

"Someone framed me up," he told Stuff.

Andrew Little, who holds both the public service and SIS ministries, refused to be drawn on the case.

"I wouldn't comment on either actual or claimed operations of any of our intelligence agencies. I simply wouldn't do that," he said.

Mr Little said the threat of foreign powers infiltrating government was "very real" but he was "satisfied that the SIS is across that".

"If you think about all the potential threats to our national security, espionage is one of them. Foreign interference, and foreign influence, is one of them," he said.

"We face that threat and it comes from more than one country."