High-Profile Espionage Case: Top Aide of German MEP Arrested, Also Visited Dharamsala

DHARAMSALA, 26 April: Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday the arrest of a close adviser to a prominent member of Germany’s far-right populist Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD). Jian Guo, an aide to German MEP Maximillian Krah in the European Parliament, was arrested in the eastern city of Dresden on Monday, media reports said citing a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

Prosecutors declared that Guo, a German citizen, was an “employee of a Chinese secret service” and had allegedly passed along information about parliamentary deliberations and decisions to Chinese intelligence in January. Maximilian Krah, a lawmaker from Germany’s AfD party, confirmed that Guo, who was arrested, was one of his employees, and that he learned about the arrest from the press on Tuesday.

Following this high-profile espionage case, Yutong Su, a Chinese activist, journalist, and blogger who fled from China to Germany in 2010, took to X (formerly Twitter) to warn Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kongers, Southern Mongolians, and Taiwanese to be cautious and learn from the incident. Su mentioned in her post on X that in September 2016, she was denied entry to a large event in Brussels organized by the International Campaign for Tibet, as a Chinese democrat in Germany(Guo Jian) had labelled her a “spy” when she presented her German ID and press card without success.

In another post on X, Su mentioned that Guo Jian had close ties with Tibetan organizations, had led people to visit Dharamsala, and had met His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She said that she had informed the Central Tibetan Administration about this. She accompanied her post with a group picture featuring the Dalai Lama flanked by five people, which she captioned, “The Chinese people around His Holiness the Dalai Lama are the ones arrested.”

Guo, who was arrested on suspicion of spying for China in Germany, had indeed visited Dharamsala. He had written an article in Chinese on the official Chinese webpage of the CTA about his invitation to visit Dharamsala, supposedly from the CTA’s Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR).

In the report published 6 years ago, Guo wrote in detail about his 12-day visit to Dharamsala under the arrangement of DIIR, his visits to the CTA and the non-governmental institutions and organizations, and his audience with the Dalai Lama.

Guo described it as an eye-opening experience on democracy for overseas Chinese while advocating for China’s democratisation.

Screenshot of Jian Guo’s article on the official Chinese webpage of the CTA.

The development becomes more intriguing as it coincides with the recent announcement from the CTA about ongoing back-channel talks with the Chinese government for over a year now.

CTA President Penpa Tsering has told WION on Thursday that, “I have always admitted to having a back channel, maintaining ongoing communication. However, if you observe the Chinese leadership’s policies and programs inside Tibet, they all aim at eradicating national identity from language to religion to political space.”

DIIR Minister Norzin Dolma also confirmed the existence of back-channel communications but expressed uncertainty, saying, “I am unsure about how much hope we can place on the outcome of these activities and how substantive and concrete those activities are.” 

In March 2023, a year ago, before this high-profile espionage case came to light, Lukar Jam, a former Tibetan political prisoner and a prominent advocate of Tibetan independence, raised a similar question to Su, urging vigilance and prudence from the Tibetans with regard to fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengu who announced himself as the contact point for the backchannel dialogue between Dharamsala and Beijing. 

Guo Wengu pictured with the Dalai Lama and Ngawa Tsegyam, Secretary, Private Office of the Dalai Lama. Image: X.

Unlike Jian Guo, Guo Wengu has visited Dharamsala multiple times and had a private audience with the Dalai Lama. But Lukar’s concerns and questions seem to have fallen on deaf ears as yet another high-profile case of a Chinese spy finds a connection to Dharmsala. 

Guo Wengu has been jailed in Brooklyn since March 2023 for 12 criminal charges including securities fraud, wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions and conspiracy, including money laundering.

For the uninitiated, nine rounds of talks were held between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and representatives of China’s United Front Work Department since 2002.

During the course of nine rounds of Sino-Tibetan talks, the Tibetan side had presented to the Chinese leadership a Memorandum and Note seeking genuine autonomy for Tibet as enshrined in the Chinese constitution and Law on Regional National Autonomy.

The ninth and the last round of talks was held in 2010 and in 2012, the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama resigned from their positions citing the overall deteriorating situation inside Tibet and “lack of willingness and sincerity” from the Chinese side.

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