Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has come under suspicion of spying in Europe, with its main logistics hub in the region being ‘monitored’ for collecting sensitive economic information.
Belgium’s intelligence service has been monitoring the company’s logistics centre at the cargo airport in the city of Liege “following intelligence assessments”, according to a report by the Financial Times (FT).
The security service said it was working to detect “possible espionage or interference activities” by Chinese entities including Alibaba, the report added.
The Belgian security service is monitoring Alibaba’s operations, with one area of scrutiny being the introduction of software systems that collate sensitive economic information, FT said.
Alibaba signed an agreement with the Belgium government in 2018 to open an e-commerce trade hub, run by its logistics arm Cainiao, that would include investment in logistics infrastructure.
The Belgian security agency told the FT the presence of Alibaba “constitutes a point of attention” for it because of legislation forcing Chinese companies to share their data with Chinese authorities and intelligence services.
The company has denied any wrongdoing, the FT report said. Alibaba and the Belgian State Security Service (VSSE) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Alibaba last month filed to list Cainiao on the Hong Kong stock exchange, which would make the unit the first to be separated since the Chinese e-commerce giant said this year it would restructure and split its business into six units.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena