Germany accused China of tricking German government workers on LinkedIn

Just reaching out…
Just reaching out…
Image: Reuters/Robert Galbraith
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Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has accused China of trying to recruit German officials via fake LinkedIn profiles.

The Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) president Hans-Georg Maaßen said on Sunday that more than 10,000 workers in parliament, ministries, and government agencies had been approached by supposed Chinese professionals who appeared to work for reputable organizations, like think-tanks and universities.

The intelligence agency believes that these are attempts by China to recruit German officials as informants, or extract intelligence from them.

“We are dealing with a broad attempt to infiltrate parliaments, ministries and administrations,” said Maaßen. “Chinese intelligence services are using new strategies of attack in the digital space.”

According to the BfV’s study, which spanned January to October 2017, Chinese intelligence agents, disguised as headhunters or consultants, express an interest in the German target’s professional ideas, and after engaging with them, in some cases even invited them on paid-for trips to China.

The BfV released some fake LinkedIn profiles as examples, include one for someone called Laeticia Chen, whose profile said she was a manager of product evaluation at the China Center for International Politics and Economy—but she doesn’t exist.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang called the accusations “groundless” and said the German government should act “more responsibly.”