'Be prepared': Stark warning as China accused of ramping up 'spying activities'

Germany is the latest country to raise concerns over Beijing's alleged spying exploits.

China's intelligence gathering has once again been thrust into the spotlight this week after Washington shot down what it deemed to be a spy balloon travelling across the US.

Beijing denied any wrongdoing, stressing it had blown off course and did not pose any risk to the US's national security.

It was followed by Canberra confirming it would remove Chinese-made security cameras in government buildings over concerns they pose a security risk.

And now Germany is the latest country this week to express its concerns over espionage from the Chinese Communist Party.

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency fears that China is expanding its spy activities against Berlin, he said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday, adding that Beijing was focusing increasingly on political espionage.

Chinese surveillance has made headlines this week, with several countries taking action. Source: Getty
Chinese surveillance has made headlines this week, with several countries taking action. Source: Getty

"China is developing wide-ranging spying and influence activities. We must be prepared for these to increase in the coming years," Verfassungsschutz agency chief Thomas Haldenwang told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

He warned that economic dependence on China could be exploited for political influence.

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"China is pursuing a long-term strategy to achieve its goals," Haldenwang said. "The political leadership is already using its economic power, which also results from intensive relations with the German and European economies, to implement political goals."

The German government has been reassessing its economic relations with authoritarian countries after the Ukraine war laid bare the vulnerabilities of Berlin's years-long energy dependence on Russia.

In a strategy paper seen by Reuters, the Economy Ministry recommended imposing stricter requirements for firms dealing with China, for example by undergoing regular stress tests.

The removal of Chinese-made cameras in Australia comes at a time the two countries are looking to mend diplomatic ties badly damaged during Scott Morrison's time as prime minister. Defence Minister Richard Marles believes the cameras' removal will not prove to be a setback in the dialogue.

With Reuters

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