Top Chinese intelligence agency, former EU ambassador embroiled in German spy investigation

Stuart Lau

The top Chinese intelligence agency is embroiled in a German inquiry into a former ambassador of the European Union accused of spying for China.

Police raided nine addresses in Berlin and Brussels, as well as the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria on Wednesday, targeting the former ambassador, who was not named, and two other people.

“I can confirm that we are carrying out an investigation into intelligence agent activity,” said Markus Schmitt, spokesman for German federal prosecutors, adding that none of the suspects had been arrested.

The news was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine.

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The magazine reported that two of the addresses in question were linked to people who provided private and business information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, the country’s top counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence unit.

The Chinese foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

The former diplomat in question had held a string of senior posts in the EU’s foreign service, the European External Action Service (EEAS), it said. The person was understood to have worked on the Asian portfolio throughout his career, sources say.

The EEAS did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

On leaving the EU civil service the person had set up as a lobbyist, the magazine reported.

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The ex-diplomat is also believed to have visited China in the company of his handling officer. Prosecutors declined to confirm the identity or professions of the three suspects.

The case is the first in recent years involving concrete allegations of spying by China against Germany and the EU. It comes amid growing concern across Europe and the broader West about China’s ramping up of its worldwide spying activity as it builds political influence to match its economic weight.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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