It has come to light that Chinese spy employed a European senator as an intelligence asset for three continuous years. Chinese spies reportedly utilized a right-wing Belgian politician as an intelligence asset for three years, the Financial Times wrote. It highlights China’s widespread influence on operations overseas.
According to the report, Daniel Creyelman, a former Belgian senator, reached Frank Woo, an officer in China’s Ministry of State Security, to unduly affect European discussions regarding Europe and Europe’s relations with the US and UK.
Woo also requested that Creyelman convince some lawmakers in the European parliament to support China over some issues.
“Our purpose is to divide the US-European relationship,” Woo reported in a text message to Creyelman.
The relationship between the Chinese agent and his European assets was revealed in secret documents acquired by the Financial Times, Der Spiegel, and Le Monde from a Western security agency.
The episode highlights continued measures by the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) to employ intelligence operations on foreign soil, spanning Canberra, Ottawa, London, and Washington DC.
The Western nations have repeatedly cautioned against such covert operations. “The MSS has spent decades trying to shape politics and global discourse on China. Recruiting and manipulating academics, policymakers, business leaders and, as this case shows, even politicians are part of that,” Alex Joske, a consultant at McGrathNicol and the author of Spies and Lies, was cited as saying by the Financial Times.
As per the report, Woo once assigned Creyelman with “attacking Adrian Zenz,” a researcher who assisted in revealing how China imprisoned hundreds of thousands of the mainly Muslim Uyghur minority in its far-western region of Xinjiang.
On one occasion, he requested the former Belgian senator to disrupt a conference on Taiwan.
According to one CIA officer, cited by the FT, these Chinese agents primarily focus on low-ranking officials, including contacts with senior politicians.“These lower-ranking politicians have established access to senior officials, regularly discuss with them sensitive topics, and then, wittingly or unwittingly, share with the MSS what they have gleaned,” said the former CIA officer.
The FT report said it was still unclear how the Chinese agent managed to hire Creyelman.
However, experts reported that Europe had become a soft target of covert and isolated Chinese operations as “the consequences of being caught in Europe were less severe than in the US.”