German-Chinese Diplomacy: No Business as Usual

Consul Wu Jimin worked at China’s consulate general in Munich. About a dozen times he was found “to lead agents, feed spies with questions, and collect info” about Uighurs in the federal state of Bavaria. Munich is home to the world’s biggest Uighur exile community. Earlier this month, unknown perpetrators threw molotov cocktails at the consulate – there are assumptions that the attack was connected to recent developments in Xinjiang.

Wu Jimin left Germany in 2007, before his differences with German counter-intelligence would lead to open confrontation.

Apparently, his work back then yielded a good crop, muses Der Spiegel*) of this week. Beijing wants Mr Wu to resume work in Munich. And Germany’s foreign office, also according to Der Spiegel, has signalled to Beijing that Mr Wu won’t be welcome. As the Chinese side seems to have no intention to withdraw their candidate, the foreign office now intends to turn Mr Wu’s visa application down.

German authorities’ perception of China has changed. Both industrial and political spying have become issues. But the countermeasures seem to start from the scratch, writes Der Spiegel. For the first time, the federal prosecutor’s office is building organizational structures to pool all information about Chinese spying activities here, and all information about the suspects. To date, even Syrian activities have been monitored with more attention than China’s. There also seems to be growing awareness of how Chinese espionage recruits its spies – and reportedly exerts pressure on reluctant candidates.

Der Spiegel writes that after a combination of broad hacking attacks from the Far East, and an increase in recorded spying activity (a link between the two lines of operations is apparently assumed), China now counts as much as an adversary in terms of date theft as Russia does.

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*) Der Spiegel No. 29, July 13 2009, page 39

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