A recent investigation by German news outlet Correctiv has uncovered the case of a young German-Chinese man who was pressured by Chinese authorities to provide information about Chinese-Germans critical of the Chinese government. The man, identified as Alex, was interrogated by police upon his arrival in China and was shown photos of himself participating in anti-government protests in Germany. After hours of questioning, Alex provided fake names of two protesters he knew. Correctiv has verified his account through conversations and evidence such as photos and chat records.
German security agencies are currently investigating the incident. If confirmed, this incident will further strain the already tense relations between Germany and China. Ulrich Lechte, a spokesperson for the Free Democratic Party parliamentary group, and Jürgen Hardt, the deputy chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, have called on the German Foreign Ministry to issue travel warnings for China in response to this incident.
The German Foreign Ministry has stated that German citizens of Chinese descent have consular protection rights, and they are unaware of any Chinese refusal to recognize the German citizenship of ethnic Chinese Germans. The ministry acknowledged previous cases where China did not fully comply with its international obligations when dealing with ethnic Chinese who obtained foreign citizenship.
This incident adds to the list of instances where Chinese authorities have pressured Chinese citizens or ethnic Chinese living abroad. In a previous investigation, it was revealed that the Chinese government exerts strict control over Chinese students studying in Germany, particularly those receiving scholarships from the China Scholarship Council. These students are required to sign agreements promising not to engage in activities detrimental to China’s interests and regularly report to the Chinese embassy. Several Chinese students expressed fears of government surveillance and harsh reactions from the Chinese consulate if they participated in protests in Germany.
The German Foreign Ministry has not indicated whether travel warnings for China will be updated in light of this incident.
Source: Deutsche Welle, July 8, 2023