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Iran Press TV

Germany-China tensions rise over military snooping claims

Iran Press TV

Sun May 26, 2019 09:14AM

A diplomatic row is brewing between Germany and China over allegations of Chinese reporters snooping around a military base during a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel this month.

The reporters were accredited along with other journalists to enter the base and report on Merkel's visit to the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force training area at Munster, Germany, on May 20.

German authorities say state-run Xinhua reporters had raised suspicion by filming military equipment and interviewing soldiers about their daily routines.

A German intelligence official, cited by Bloomberg, said Xinhua has been under observation for some time due to its alleged links to China's ruling Communist party.

"German intelligence views Xinhua reporters as feeding Chinese propaganda efforts and helping collect data and information abroad that's subsequently put to official use," it quoted the unnamed official as saying.

The development comes in the wake of rising tensions between China and the US and Washington's efforts to build a coalition to counter Beijing's growing influence around the world.

Last September, the US government ordered Xinhua and broadcaster China Global Television Network to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The law requires Xinhua and CGTN to disclose their activities and spending and to introduce disclaimers regarding their journalistic content.

The United States is currently trying to persuade its allies not to use Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei for their 5G networks.

Earlier this month, the US placed Huawei on a trade blacklist, effectively banning American firms from doing business with the world's largest telecom network gear maker and escalating a trade war with China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang on Friday urged the United States to stop using its national power to suppress and smear other countries' companies.

In a further sign of escalating tensions, China has protested to Germany for granting asylum status to two Chinese fugitives.

Xinhua said China's Foreign Ministry had summoned Germany's Acting Consul General to Hong Kong David Schmidt for an emergency meeting to express Beijing's "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the move.

Ray Wong and Alan Li, who are facing rioting charges in Hong Kong, jumped bail and fled to Germany in 2017 via Taiwan.

China urged "the German side to recognize its mistakes and change its course, and not to accept and condone criminals, and interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs," Xinhua said.

Former British colony Hong Kong was returned to China in 1979.

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