Suddenly, Chinese spies appear all over Europe.

One of them, a young Brit known for his hawkish views on China, worked as an aide to a prominent member of the British Parliament. The other is a Chinese-German who worked as an assistant to a member of the European Parliament representing Germany’s far right.

Although they come from different countries and appear to have different backgrounds and outlooks, this week they were caught up in accusations of espionage on behalf of China and a growing backlash in Europe against China’s negative influence in politics and trade.

A total of six people were charged with spying for China in three separate cases in Europe this week (two in the UK and four in Germany).

The spy scandal in Britain and Germany was the first of its kind in the two countries, which once had warm relations with Beijing, and served as a striking exclamation point in Europe’s long and often bitter break with China.

Shortly after British and German officials announced they had indicted six of their nationals on espionage charges, authorities in the Netherlands and Poland on Wednesday accused Chinese security equipment suppliers of Chinese security equipment suppliers as part of a European Union crackdown on what they consider to be unfair trade practices. The office was searched. Practice.

This is the first time that the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, has used new anti-foreign subsidies laws to order a raid on a Chinese company.

In early April, Sweden expelled its president. Chinese journalist The man, who had lived in the country for 20 years, said the reporter posed a threat to national security.

After years of periodic clashes over trade and subsequent rapprochement, Europe has “lost its patience with China,” said Ivana Karaskova, a Czech researcher at the Institute for International Affairs, an independent research group in Prague. European Commission on China.

In the “multidimensional chess game” between the world’s two largest economies after the United States, China still has firm friends in the European Union, especially Hungary, he added. However, Karaskova said that some European countries “totally deny” the dangers posed by Chinese espionage and influence operations, and that “we want to protect Europe’s national interests without taking a too lenient view.” Stated. China. “

This week, accusations that China is using spies to infiltrate and influence democratic processes in Germany and Britain caused particular alarm. It signaled a move beyond the already well-known business shenanigans to covert political interference that had previously been seen as such. Mainly Russian specialties.

But China experts say these accusations, and a spate of them this week, indicate that European countries are stepping up their response rather than that Beijing is ramping up its espionage efforts.

He is a British China expert andEverything that shines A forthcoming book will explore how what London touted as a “golden age” of Sino-British friendships a decade ago under Prime Minister David Cameron meant China could easily oust politicians and businessmen. It details how it was done. The “Golden Age” has been widely derided as the “Golden Fallacy.”

Mr Cameron, currently Britain’s foreign secretary, has become an outspoken critic of China in recent months. During a visit to Washington in December, he declared that “many facts have changed” and that China had become a “landmark challenge.”

His change of heart reflects a broader shift in attitudes in much of Europe toward the rising superpower, which has long been hoping for a counterattack from European countries, especially Germany, which it accuses of “anti-China propaganda” emanating from the United States. There is.

German security officials have been publicly warning about the risks of trusting China since 2022, when the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, Thomas Haldenwang, told parliament shortly after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. “Russia is a storm. China is climate change itself.”

In an unusual public warning last summer, the agency, known by its German acronym BfV, said, “In recent years, the Chinese state and party leadership have been gaining access to high-quality political information and attempting to influence decision-making processes.” We are significantly stepping up our efforts to provide “overseas.” “

But Germany’s political leadership was much more ambiguous until this week. Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently paid an official visit to China, Germany’s largest trading partner, to discuss trade and market access.

But Germany’s interior minister this week gave a frank assessment of China’s activities. “We recognize the tremendous danger that Chinese espionage poses to business, industry and science,” said Minister Nancy Feiser. “We are closely monitoring these risks and threats and are issuing clear warnings and raising awareness so that protective measures are strengthened everywhere.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China However, the accusation was dismissed as baseless. It called for “slander and slander against China,” and demanded that Germany “cease the malicious exaggeration” and “stop the anti-China political drama.”

“China has been able to escape major public warnings for a long time,” said Mareike Ohlberg, a China expert and senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. Now, she said, German authorities “have run out of patience to either actively press the issue or not to issue it.”

Three of the four people arrested in Germany this week (a husband and wife and one other person) used a company called Innovative Dragon to pass on classified information about German ship propulsion systems – information of great value to the public. It is believed that he was involved in economic espionage activities. Superpowers are interested in building up their navies. They also used the company to purchase high-power dual-purpose lasers, which they exported to China without permission.

The fourth person, in what prosecutors called a “particularly serious case,” is Jianguo, a Chinese-German national accused of working for China’s Ministry of State Security. His regular job involves working with Maximilian Kula, a member of the European Parliament for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, a new political force friendly to China and Russia, and the front-runner in June’s elections. He is an assistant to

Dresden prosecutors have since launched a “preliminary investigation” into how much Kula knew about his employees’ connections to China. On Wednesday, the party decided to continue supporting Mr. Kula’s re-election to the European Parliament, but did not invite him to suspend his campaign.

When Xi visits Europe next month, he will avoid Germany and Britain and visit Hungary and Serbia, China’s last two staunch allies on the continent, as well as France.

British author Thorley said the spying incident raised alarms about China’s activities, but said it was just one part of China’s efforts to gain influence and information. More important than traditional espionage, he said, China is targeting “potential networks” of people who do not work directly in the Ministry of State Security but are vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party or China for commercial or other reasons. He said that he is using it. Its countless sects.

“For a while, things were bad and it was too neglected,” he said.

Christopher Cash, 29, and Christopher Berry, 32, who were charged in London with Chinese espionage, were arrested in March last year but were released on bail and their names were not released until they were charged this week. .

Mr Cash is a parliamentary researcher with ties to the ruling Conservative Party and a former Conservative party director. China research groupan organization that often takes a hard-line view of China, host a podcast Criticizes China’s intervention.

His former colleagues include Alicia Kearns, a member of the ruling Conservative party who leads influential members of parliament. Foreign Affairs Committeeand his predecessor in that role, Tom Tugendhat, who is now Minister of Security.

in This week’s statement The Metropolitan Police said Mr Cash and Mr Berry were charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act and providing information “intended to directly or indirectly benefit an enemy”. It added: “The foreign country to which the above charges relate is China.”

“It took a very long time to wake up, but we are finally seeing some movement,” says Peter, a British national accused by China of illegally obtaining personal information during due diligence work for pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.・Mr. Humphrey said. He and his wife spent two years in a Shanghai prison.

When Mr Cameron visited the city in 2013 with a delegation of British businessmen, he was in prison suffering from cancer. “I felt sick,” said Humphrey, an external researcher at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for China Studies. “Nobody at the top of the British government wanted to hear bad things about China because of business interests,” he said.

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