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China’s espionage activities in Europe prompt concerns

China's espionage activities in Europe prompt concerns
By Yagiz Efe Parmaksiz
Apr 25, 2024 1:58 AM

Analysts are concerned about China’s growing espionage activities in Europe, with recent incidents in Germany and the UK revealing Beijing’s extensive intelligence network and its ability to infiltrate European capitals

Analysts are raising alarms about China’s escalating espionage activities in Europe, highlighting a trend that has seen Chinese agents growing bolder in their operations, according to experts.

Recent incidents in Germany and Britain have underscored Beijing’s extensive intelligence network and its capacity to infiltrate European capitals. This week, both Germany and the United Kingdom disclosed that five individuals had been arrested or charged on suspicion of spying for China, coinciding with the lead-up to European elections.

Additionally, German prosecutors announced the arrest of an aide to a far-right member of the European Parliament, also on suspicion of espionage for China.

The timing and correlation between these cases remain unclear, with no immediate evidence linking them. However, these developments follow repeated warnings from Western nations regarding Chinese intelligence services’ efforts to conduct espionage on European economies, institutions, and public opinion.

China has vehemently denied these accusations.

According to Alexandre Papaemmanuel, an intelligence expert based in Paris, Chinese intelligence has a longstanding focus on acquiring information assets, patents, and strategic intellectual resources.

For years, Europe has largely overlooked this threat, partially due to what experts describe as a blend of naivety and overconfidence in globalization.

Contrary to the strategic reflex observed in the United States, where economic security measures are prioritized, the European Union has historically emphasized principles of free trade and multilateralism, according to a report by the Institut Montaigne in Paris.

However, the scale of the Chinese intelligence apparatus presents a significant challenge. Paul Charon, a China specialist at the French military’s Institute for Strategic Research, estimates that China’s intelligence branch within the Ministry of Public Security employs between 80,000 to 100,000 people, with potentially up to 200,000 agents within the Ministry of State Security.

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Britain’s parliament described China’s intelligence apparatus as likely the largest in the world, surpassing even the UK’s intelligence community.

China’s espionage efforts encompass various state organs, including the army, ministries of state security, public security, foreign affairs, and industry, as well as numerous Chinese Communist Party organizations, as outlined by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

The recent surge in espionage cases reflects heightened Western scrutiny of Beijing’s activities. However, the true extent of China’s espionage remains elusive, with experts acknowledging a lack of comprehensive understanding.

European security services have initiated counter-espionage measures, but they continue to face challenges in comprehending the organization, capabilities, and modus operandi of Chinese intelligence services.

In addressing these gaps, experts advocate for leveraging digital investigation as a means to bolster knowledge and understanding of China’s espionage activities.

As Europe grapples with multiple crises and resource limitations, the urgency to confront China’s espionage efforts has become increasingly apparent.

Source: AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 4:46 PM