Home Asean News Hackers Target Anti-China Politicians In UK, Also Belgium

Hackers Target Anti-China Politicians In UK, Also Belgium


Els Van Hoof, chair of the Belgian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told public broadcaster VRT on Thursday that Chinese spies hacked her laptop in 2021. This incident is the latest in a series of allegations regarding Chinese espionage activities in Europe. Tensions have been escalating between Beijing and Western countries over espionage, with Western intelligence services frequently warning about the activities of Chinese state-supported hackers. Beijing has consistently denied these allegations.

Van Hoof found out about the cyber attack last month, three years after the incident had taken place, via a FBI report, she told VRT in an interview.

She said that 400 members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a British group with ties to an international network of politicians critical of China of which she is a member, had been targeted by the cyber attack.

“I have also opened those emails and that means I have become tracked in all my doings on a digital level,” Van Hoof, a member of the Flemish Christian Democrats, said. “That is a very uncomfortable feeling.”

IPAC and Van Hoof did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters has asked Beijing for comment.

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The impact of the cyber attack remains unclear. Belgian Newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the whereabouts of the affected laptops had been tracked since 2021, citing the FBI report.

“I feel that I am actually working with my windows and doors open,” Van Hoof told VRT. “The intention is obviously to intimidate you and make you shut up.”

The alleged intimidation had been going on ever since she took up her current role, she told VRT.

Els Van Hoof further revealed to VRT that the hacking incident involved intimidation from industry sources and the Chinese embassy, along with the cancellation of a committee hearing about the Uyghur ethnic minority due to a system shutdown. Despite these issues, Belgian state security services inspected Van Hoof’s laptop in September 2021 but reported finding nothing suspicious. Additionally, earlier this week, an aide to a European Parliament member from the far-right Alternative for Germany party was detained in Germany under suspicion of severe espionage activities for China.

With Inputs From Reuters