Belgian intelligence monitors Alibaba hub over espionage concerns

Belgium's intelligence service has been monitoring Alibaba's main logistics hub in Europe for espionage amid suspicions that China is exploiting its growing economic presence in the West, the Financial Times reports on Thursday.

The Belgian State Security Service (VSSE) told the Financial Times it was working to detect "possible espionage and/or interference activities" by Chinese companies "including Alibaba".

Alibaba, which denies any wrongdoing, signed an agreement with Belgium in 2018 to open a logistics hub at the cargo airport in Liège. The site is run by Alibaba's logistics spin-off Cainiao and mainly handles goods sold through its online shopping site AliExpress. 

Even before the hub became operational in 2021, the VSSE warned that the company's presence in Liège posed an espionage risk. The security service has continued to monitor Alibaba's operations following intelligence assessments, writes the Financial Times. 

The VSSE said Alibaba's presence was a "point of attention" for the service because of legislation forcing Chinese companies to share their data with Chinese authorities and intelligence services. "China has the intent and capacity to use this data for non-commercial purposes," the agency said.

Cainiao denied any suggestion of wrongdoing. "Data security and privacy protection is of paramount concern to our business. We are in compliance with all laws and regulations, including GDPR," the company said.



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