Monday

18th Jan 2021

Letter

Right-of-reply from Chinese embassy to Belgium

  • (Photo: EUOBOR)

Dear Sir/ Madam,

The Embassy of China in Belgium took note of an article in EUobserver published on 6 May entitled "China suspected of bio-espionage in 'heart of EU' ", which claims that China carries out bio-espionage in Belgium through vaccine development and S&T cooperation; China-Belgium Technology Center is a potential base for economic espionage undermining research results of universities and high-tech companies; former director of the VUB Confucius Institute conducted espionage activities through a wide-ranging social network.

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Such claims, based on internal reports four years ago, fall far from the truth, and are mainly based on conjectures and presumptions.

The so-called 'Chinese espionage menace' is nothing new and has time and again been proven fictitious.

Repeated appearance of such reports only serves to mislead the readers and have negative effects.

China develops friendly cooperation with all countries including Belgium on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits.

As an important part of our bilateral relations, China-Belgium technology cooperation has always followed the principle of mutual benefits.

The two governments have signed science and technology cooperation agreements, and established cooperation mechanisms such as the S&T innovation dialogue and the joint commission on scientific and technological cooperation.

All scientific cooperation projects are carried out in accordance with the laws and regulations of the two countries. They are open and transparent, and have brought tangible benefits to the people.

The Chinese and Belgian enterprises and people have the most say.

The China-Belgium Science and Technology Center mentioned by the article is a project aimed at facilitating the development of incubating technologies and exchanges between China and Belgium.

It is a project that is written into the joint declaration of the two countries in 2014 and endorsed by national leaders and governments of both sides.

It is irresponsible to force espionage charges upon rightful S&T cooperation. Many companies including high-tech firms joined the trade mission led by Princess Astrid to China last year.

Many Belgian and European research institutes carry out R&D and production activities in China. Should their operations in China also be questioned?

China and Belgium have our respective strengths in the S&T domain.

China has taken the lead in some areas. China-Belgium S&T cooperation particularly in the fight against the virus benefits both sides. Stigmatizing normal scientific and technology cooperation does not fit with the broader picture of China-Belgium cooperation against the COVID-19 and runs counter to good reason and are unjustified.

People-to-people exchanges are an important way to enhancing mutual understanding and trust between different countries and people. China-Belgium education cooperation and cultural exchanges are part of our thriving bilateral relations and personnel exchanges.

Regarding professor Song Xinning, the former Chinese Confucius Institute Director at VUB, the Belgian Aliens Litigation Council has recently ruled in favour of professor Song's appeal against the Belgian Immigration Bureau's travel ban against him.

His travel restriction into the Schengen region has been lifted since the date the ruling took effect.

It is hoped that people will view China and China-Belgium relations in an objective light, and together we will work for even stronger China-Belgium relations and contribute to international cooperation against the coronavirus with concrete actions.

Spokesperson,

Embassy of China in Belgium

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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