Where else in Europe have suspected Chinese spies been arrested?

Two men were charged in Britain with spying for China, including one reported to have been a parliamentary researcher

Mark Heinrich
Tuesday 23 April 2024 16:31 BST
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China’s flag flies in front of the embassy of China in Berlin, Germany, Monday, April 22, 202
China’s flag flies in front of the embassy of China in Berlin, Germany, Monday, April 22, 202 ((c) Copyright 2024, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten)

The arrest in Germany of a European Parliament aide on suspicion of “especially severe” espionage for China is the latest in a series of incidents involving allegations of Chinese spying in Europe. Beijing has denied wrongdoing.

Jitters about alleged Chinese spying have mounted across Western Europe in recent months.

Following is a rundown of recent notable recent cases.

Germany

April 23 - German prosecutors said a man they named as Jian G. had been arrested on suspicion of passing information about discussions in the European Union legislature to Chinese intelligence. The website of Maximilian Krah, the top candidate of the German far-right AfD party in June’s election to the assembly, lists Jian Guo as one of his assistants. Krah said he had learned of Guo’s arrest from the media and would stop working with him if the charges were proven.

Jian G, who lived in Brussels and the German city of Dresden, also spied on Chinese opposition figures in Germany, prosecutors said. “He is accused of an especially severe case of working for a foreign secret service,” a statement said.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that if the charges were proven, it was “an attack on European democracy from within”. Germany had massively increased counter-espionage, she said, due to Russian hybrid threats and Chinese snooping.

The Chinese embassy did not immediately reply on Tuesday to requests for comment. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said reports of Chinese espionage in Europe were “hype” and “intended to discredit and suppress China”.

April 22 - Germany’s Justice Ministry said three Germans had been arrested on suspicion of working with the Chinese secret service to hand over technology that could be used for military purposes, in particular Beijing’s navy.

In response to those arrests, the Chinese embassy in Berlin said Beijing firmly rejected accusations that it carried out such espionage in Germany.

Britain

April 22 - Two men were charged in Britain with spying for China, including one reported to have worked as parliamentary researcher for a prominent lawmaker in the governing Conservative Party.

The pair, aged 32 and 29, were charged with providing prejudicial information to China in breach of Britain’s Official Secrets Act and are to appear in court on Friday.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Counter Terrorism Command at the Metropolitan Police, said the investigation had been “extremely complex” and the allegations “very serious”.

Beijing’s embassy in London said the allegation that China was trying to steal British intelligence was “completely fabricated”.

March 25 - Britain accused Chinese hackers of trying to break into email accounts of British lawmakers critical of Beijing and said a separate Chinese entity was behind a hack of its electoral watchdog that compromised the data of millions of people. The Chinese embassy in London said the claims were completely fabricated and malicious slanders.

Netherlands

April 18 - The Dutch military intelligence agency MIVD said in its annual report that Chinese spies had targeted the Dutch semiconductor, aerospace and maritime industries to try to strengthen Beijing’s armed forces

“China wants to be independent from Western knowledge and technology (and) wants to build a military that can match any other,” the MIVD report said. “To do so, it needs advanced technology it doesn’t yet fully possess. It tries to get this abroad, using legal means such as research and investments, but also through its intelligence agencies.”

Belgium

December 20, 2023 - Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo described China as a “sometimes very hostile” country after allegations Beijing had recruited a member of the Belgian far-right party Vlaams Belang as an intelligence asset. The leader of Vlaams Belang, which favours Flemish independence, expelled the party member in question over the allegations. (Compiled by Mark Heinrich; Editing by William Maclean)

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