US media is reporting on what it describes as a prominent European lawmaker said to be acting as an agent of Chinese influence in the European Parliament. The POLITICO report identifies the lawmaker as MEP Jan Zahradil:
November 26, 2020 Just over a year ago, a prominent European lawmaker urged newly elected peers to help him rid the bloc of “acrimonious competition” with China. On the face of it, the invitation to an EU-China Friendship Group event was business-as-usual in the European Parliament. Many so-called friendship groups seek to promote cultural and economic ties between the EU and countries ranging from the United Arab Emirates to Taiwan.“Champagne and canapés will be served,” read the lawmaker’s invitation. But the China group showed greater potential — and ambition — than others of its kind. Its leader, a high-profile Czech conservative named Jan Zahradil, was vice chair of the Parliament’s powerful International Trade Committee. As such, he was able to weigh in on EU trade decisions and could obtain access to sensitive negotiating documents from the European Commission.The group’s secretary-general was Gai Lin, a Chinese national who had helped to organize more than a dozen trips to China for EU lawmakers over the past decade and a half, and was plugged into Beijing’s extensive network of soft-power institutions.In his invitation, Zahradil hinted at the advantage conferred by his position to prospective members. He promised to use his “stronger political profile” to bolster EU-China ties, especially in the areas of “trade and environmental policy” — the latter a highly contentious area at the outset of trade talks.
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The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported last month that a Chinese-Australian community leader had become the first person charged with a foreign interference offense under news laws established in 2018.
The GIOR also reported last month on a high-ranking German official said to have suppressed a 2018 report on Chinese influence in Germany.