After a Chinese espionage case, the Flemish far right is plunged into crisis

After a Chinese espionage case, the Flemish far right is plunged into crisis

Far-right Vlaams Belang party leader Tom van Greken in Antwerp, December 10, 2023. Christoph van Akkom/AFP

The Belgian Prime Minister accuses the far-right Vlaams Belang party of “selling the interests” of the country and not defending them, in reference to an influence operation on behalf of China.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo accused the Flemish far-right on Thursday, December 21, of “Interest sale» The country and not in defense of it, in reference to an influence operation on behalf of China suspected by a member of this political family. “In the end, the extremists do not serve our interests, nor the interests of the Belgians, nor the interests of the Flemish. They are selling them out.», quipped the Flemish liberal leader in front of the Federal Parliament, regarding the issue that has embarrassed the far-right Vlaams Belang party for a week.

In an investigation published last Friday, three European media outlets presented former Senator (VB) Frank Creelman as a courier in Brussels for an influence operation carried out by a Chinese intelligence agent.

“Influence on Belgian and European parliamentary work”

This involves in particular the promotion within the Belgian Parliament of elements of Beijing’s language regarding the Uyghurs or the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. The mission was scheduled to begin in 2019, with Mr. Creelman ordering a report on Charles Michel at a time when the latter, then Prime Minister of Belgium, was preparing to assume the presidency of the European Council (which represents the 27 EU countries). European Union), confirms these three media outlets, Le Monde, the Financial Times, and Der Spiegel.

On Thursday, Alexander De Croo confirmed that he had been informed in early December that China was responsible for an interference operation for which it allegedly paid a Belgian elected official. “State Security (Belgian civil intelligence, editor’s note) informed us that it had reliable information that a Chinese agent from the Ministry of State Security had purchased a former member of parliament.“, said the Belgian Prime Minister.

Its mission was to influence Belgian and European parliamentary work“The referee added,”It is unacceptable that our democratic system can be manipulated in this way“.”We do not accept that from any foreign power!» This case embarrasses Vlaams Belang more than ever, as Frank Creelman’s brother, Stephen Creelman, one of the movement’s eighteen representatives in the federal parliament, is suspected of being aware of the influence operation.

“Serious error in judgement”

On Thursday, the party announced its withdrawal.with immediate effect» Chairman of the Parliament’s Military Procurement Committee, considering that Stephen Creelman committed “Serious error in judgement“By not informing VB of this matter.”Try to influence“.

These revelations come less than six months before the legislative elections in Belgium, while in the latest opinion polls the VB party received 25% of the votes in Flanders, the most populous region in the country, making it the leading Flemish party ahead of the powerful Flemish party. New Flemish Alliance (N-VA, Conservatives). The infiltration of the Flemish far-right could seriously complicate the formation of a future government in this otherwise ungovernable country.

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