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China envoy to Germany says Chinese student spy concern ‘hysterical’


FILED - China's Ambassador to Germany Wu Ken arrives for the German President's New Year's reception for the Diplomatic Corps at Bellevue Palace. Photo: Christoph Soeder/dpa

The Chinese ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, has rejected fears of espionage by Chinese students, calling such warnings a political farce.

By Sebastian Engel, dpa

German Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger had indicated that Chinese students posed a threat of espionage, the Chinese diplomat told the Saturday edition of the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

At the same time, Wu said, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), which is Germany’s lead domestic intelligence agency, published a security alert classifying a Chinese student organization as an intelligence agency.

“Such an action is, in my opinion, hysterical, insane and has become a sinophobia that must be dealt with,” he said.

Wu added that the security alert was nothing but a political farce and poisoned the atmosphere of cooperation.

“Such action stigmatizes certain groups. Hence my appeal to some German politicians and authorities: They should mind their own business and keep their hands off the students.”

Stark-Watzinger had praised the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), located in the state of Bavaria, in an interview at the end of July.

In June, the FAU decided to exclude applicants who are solely funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC). The CSC scholarship programme is connected to China’s Ministry of Education.

At the time, Stark-Watzinger warned that it was a Chinese strategic instrument to close technological gaps by gaining knowledge from abroad.

Furthermore, scholarship holders would not be able to fully exercise the freedom of opinion and academic freedom enshrined in the German constitution, she argued.

In response to the recent announcement of Germany’s new China strategy, the ambassador told the newspaper, “If Germany regards China as a competitor and systemic rival, this does not correspond to the interests of both countries. We, therefore, hope that Germany will pursue a rational China policy. A China strategy from an ideological point of view will only lead to misunderstandings and reinforce misinterpretations.”

The German government’s new China strategy plans to reduce key economic dependencies on China but is not seeking to fundamentally alter its relations with the world’s second-largest economy.

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