Latest news, features and analysis on global diplomatic relations, with a focus on China’s international ties – especially with the US, its Asian neighbours and the European Union.

Top Chinese spying agency embroiled in German probe
China's top intelligence agency has been embroiled in a German probe into a former ambassador of the European Union who was accused of spying for China. Police raided nine addresses in Berlin and Brussels, as well as the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, on Wednesday. The authorities were targeting the ex-ambassador, who was not named, and two other people. The news was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine, which says that two of the addresses in question were linked to people who provided private and business information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, the country’s top counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence unit. The case is the first in recent years invol
Qasem Soleimani killing shows China on the sidelines in the Middle East
The killing on Friday of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani by the United States was very bad news for China.  Tehran’s inevitable response will further deteriorate the geopolitical situation in the Persian Gulf region, which serves much of Chinese oil needs and is an essential element of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing said the US drone strike against the Iranian general, who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force and was responsible for Iran’s overseas military and intelligence operations, was a form of abuse. In a phone call with his Iranian counterpart over the weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that China would continue
China tests urban killer drones for export
A Chinese technology firm is testing a new attack drone specifically designed to help ground troops in street-level combat, in the hope that it can sell the unit abroad, reports say. Engineers recently completed a successful air-to-ground test firing exercise for the mini quadcopter named Tianyi, Modern Weaponry reported. The developer, Tianjin Zhongwei Aerospace Data System Technology, said the unmanned aerial vehicle had been designed to carry out both reconnaissance missions and close-range strikes against armored vehicles or individuals in an urban environment. “It is suitable for circumstances that include asymmetric combat, counterterrorism and special forces [operations] and street ba
Ex-UK consulate worker Simon Cheng ‘tortured’ in China
Simon Cheng, a former trade officer at the British consulate in Hong Kong, said that he was tortured during his 15-day detention in Shenzhen, China. According to Cheng, he was interrogated for days, shackled, blindfolded, beaten and locked up alone. He said he was pressed for information about the pro-democracy protests and whether the UK has a hand in the Hong Kong’s civil unrest.
Chinese professor accused of spying banned from entering 26 Europe states
A Chinese professor who headed a Confucius Institute in Brussels has been barred from entering the 26 European countries that make up the Schengen zone for eight years after being accused of espionage, amid growing scrutiny of the Beijing-run cultural offices that have been established at universities around the world. Song Xinning, former director of the institute at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), said he had been accused by authorities in Belgium of supporting Chinese intelligence activities in the city – an accusation he denied. The Belgian newspaper De Morgen reported on Tuesday that VUB had ignored a warning from the State Security Service about the institute’s activities. The ar
Former US official says she took China’s gifts and turned over documents
A former US State Department office manager pleaded guilty on Wednesday for hiding extensive contacts with two Chinese intelligence agents. Candace Claiborne, the 63-year-old manager, admitted that she and her family members received tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts in exchange for diplomatic and economic information China wanted, the US Department of Justice said on Wednesday. The case comes amid Washington's heightened alarm over what it considers Beijing’s increasing economic espionage against the US. FBI director Christopher Wray, a member of an initiative launched in November to counter Beijing’s economic spying, said “no country presents a broader, more severe threat” to