Europe News

China reported to have tried to recruit conservative German lawmaker as spy: Media

Key Points
  • China repeatedly contacted a conservative German politician to offer him money for insider information, according to a report by a German newspaper.
  • The offers were made during the summer of 2016.
  • Speaking at a news briefing Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had not heard of the matter.
Flags fly in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 5, 2018.
Zhang Jie | Hainan Daily | VCG | Getty Images

Chinese individuals contacted a conservative lawmaker in the German parliament several times in the summer of 2016, offering him money in exchange for his expertise and insider knowledge, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Friday.

The newspaper said the German Bfv domestic intelligence agency had warned the lawmaker shortly before he was to travel to China that it believed Chinese intelligence agents were behind the contacts. The lawmaker was not identified.

In a second case, a staff member of a lawmaker was paid 10,000 euros for information, and also travelled to China, where he was put under pressure, the newspaper reported.

The report came as China was urging the European Union to issue a strong joint statement against U.S. President Donald Trump's trade policies at a summit later this month, and to forge an alliance between the EU and China.

Beijing also offered to open more of the Chinese market to trade from the EU in a gesture of goodwill, reflecting the depth of its concern about a trade war with the U.S., as Trump is set to impose tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports on July 6.

Europe, concerned about preserving its close historic ties to the United States, has rejected the Chinese proposals.

The EU is also seeking to pass legislation to allow greater scrutiny of Chinese takeovers of European firms.

Speaking in Beijing on Friday at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had not heard of the matter and had no information on it.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Germany next week for meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In April, Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the Bfv, urged vigilance about moves by Chinese companies to invest in or buy high-technology German companies, warning the loss of key technologies could harm the German economy.

The agency last year said Chinese intelligence services were using fake profiles on social networking sites such as LinkedIn to gather personal information about German officials and politicians.