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Belgium’s intelligence service is examining the operations of technology giant Huawei as fears of Chinese espionage grow around the EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels, according to confidential documents seen by POLITICO and three people familiar with the matter.
In recent months, Belgium’s State Security Service (VSSE) has requested interviews with former employees of the company’s lobbying operation in the heart of Brussels’ European district. The intelligence gathering is part of security officials’ activities to scrutinize how China may be using non-state actors — including senior lobbyists in Huawei’s Brussels office — to advance the interests of the Chinese state and its Communist party in Europe, said the people, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The scrutiny of Huawei’s EU activities comes as Western security agencies are sounding the alarm over companies with links to China. British, Dutch, Belgian, Czech and Nordic officials — as well as EU functionaries — have all been told to stay off TikTok on work phones over concerns similar to those surrounding Huawei, namely that Chinese security legislation forces Chinese tech firms to hand over data.
Belgian intelligence officers want to determine if there are any direct ties between the Chinese state and Huawei’s Brussels office, the people said.
At the core of Western concerns surrounding Huawei — which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China — is whether the firm can be instrumentalized, pressured or infiltrated by the Chinese government to gain access to critical data in Western countries.