• The Financial District

BELGIUM PROBES CHINA SPY THREAT USING MALTA’S EU EMBASSY

Belgium’s homeland security service, the Veiligheid van de Staat (VSSE), has said it has investigated a potential Chinese espionage threat in Malta’s EU Embassy in Brussels which sits right across the building of the European Commission (EC), the Asia Times reported on May 20, 2020.

VSSE said the Chinese were involved in the renovation of the Dar Malta Embassy in 2007 but added there has never been any evidence showing that Chinese spy activities have actually taken place from this building. On Friday, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that Chinese intelligence had installed surveillance equipment in Malta’s EU embassy in Brussels in 2007, when a Chinese firm renovated the building, and that VSSE had been tipped off by British intelligence about the matter in the same year.


As a precaution, televisions donated by the Chinese that could be connected to a power source were not installed and all the wooden furniture was scanned on arrival, one Maltese government source told the Times of Malta, The Guardian reported.


Malta, in recent years, has courted Chinese and Russian investment, the EUobserver reported. A Chinese firm, Shanghai Electric Power, for instance, bought a 33% stake in Maltese energy supplier Enemalta in 2014 — shortly before Enemalta became embroiled in corruption allegations linked to the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. China is building a five-storey embassy in Malta on a 19,000 sq-metre site and concerns have been raised about the abuse of the so-called golden visas being sold to wealthy Chinese citizens allowing free movement across the EU. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Belgium said the espionage claims were false.