Reuters, October 30, 2019
Belgium said on Oct. 30 it denied a residence permit to the director of the Confucius Institute in Brussels, Xinning Song, who told Reuters he had been banned from entering the country because he was accused of espionage.
Dominique Ernould, spokeswoman for the Belgian interior ministry, said Song had been refused the permit needed to return to Brussels and his job at Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s (VUB) Confucius Institute, but declined any further comment, citing privacy.
Song said by email that the Belgian State Security Service had wrongly accused him of working with Chinese intelligence in Belgium, and that he had appealed the decision to deny him entry into the country.
Song told Reuters the Belgian ban also means he is banned from all other European Schengen countries.
Chinese academics and professionals have come under increasing scrutiny in Europe and North America as tensions have spiked between global economic superpowers.
The U.S. government suspects that equipment of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei could be used by Beijing for spying.
VUB told Reuters that exchanges from countries like China need to be “looked at very critically, but the VUB is still convinced that people and societies can only move forward by working together in dialogue.”