Share article:
Share article:

Are Chinese agents operating at Liege Airport?

© Liege airport

The government is investigating the possibility that agents of the Chinese government are operating out of Liege airport, according to federal justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD).

The minister was speaking yesterday to members of the justice committee in the parliament, and a question from member Samuel Cogolati (Ecolo).

Chinese intelligence agents could have access to sensitive and secure areas of the airport,” he admitted.

The weak link could be the Chinese online retailer Alibaba, which uses the airport extensively as a hub for distribution of its goods throughout Europe.

According to a 2017 law, Chinese companies are obliged to cooperate with government agencies, and even to open up posts in their operations to agents of the security services, regardless of where their operations are being carried out.

Given the central situation of Liege, and the fact that it is likely to be less closely guarded than Zaventem, it would appear that the airport presents an ideal opportunity to implant agents there inside what is a major Chinese presence in the form of Alibaba.

Alibaba also has to obey the Chinese security apparatus in the event that the latter wishes to have access to potentially sensitive commercial and personal data held by Alibaba in the context of its activities in Liège,” Van Quickenborne added.

But commercial intelligence, while useful, is not all.

This interest is not limited to intelligence and security purposes but can be viewed within a broader political and economic framework,” he told MPs.

Since last October, member states of the European Union are obliged to screen foreign inward investments for their potential impact on security and public order. Given China’s investment in its installation at Liege airport, should that not offer some protection against misuse, members of the committee asked.

Our country does not yet have such a mechanism,” Van Quickenborne admitted.

A temporary solution has been found by making the economy ministry a national contact point, he explained. The ministry is also working hard to develop this mechanism in Belgium, he said.

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...