April 15, 2003

Speaking of elections...

As I've pointed out before, it's election season in Belgium. There is a new sort of party here in Belgium. I've only recently become aware of them from their bumperstickers, which seem to be proliferating in college-town-liberal Leuven. They're called Vivant and they have an ad on the front page of Metro today - a free newspaper distributed in the train stations in both French and Dutch.


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March 11, 2004

A day of waiting

Despite a desire to strike while the iron is hot, today's events in Spain have taken away my taste for pith. So, Huntington gets a day's reprieve.

I know that everyone in Spain is reporting that this must have been ETA, but this just makes more sense to me as Osama Bin Laden's contribution to the Committee to Relect the President. Terrorism is, above all else, a media strategy. I can see how 9/11 profits Al Qaeda as a media strategy and I can see how this would. I can't see how this profits a local nationalist movement like ETA.

I'm not saying this out of any sympathy for ETA - I'm vehemently against nationalism, but I'm very much pro-minority rights, so I have no ideological axe to grind either way and I don't know enough about Spain to have an informed opinion. It just makes less sense for an organisation in their position.

But that's all pure speculation. There's nothing to do but to wait to see what comes of it. Anyway, I imagine tomorrow I'll be back up to hacking pieces out of Huntington's metaphorical hide.


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May 13, 2005

The Reds among us

Turns out I'm very close to a big Chinese espionage ring:

Une universit? belge pourrait abriter un r?seau d'espionnage industriel chinois

[...] Dans sa lettre d'informations bimensuelle Strategic Asia, l'Esisc, un centre de recherche stratégique basé à Bruxelles, affirme qu'"un véritable réseau multinational de renseignement économique piloté depuis la Belgique" serait à l'oeuvre. Une organisation "très classique" aurait été mise en place, explique l'Esisc : "Une association d'étudiants et de stagiaires totalement indépendante des structures diplomatiques chinoises, qui, pour des raisons évidentes, ne sont pas officiellement liées à ces opérations." [...]

L'Esisc ne cite pas cette organisation, "qui est dans le collimateur de plusieurs services de renseignement depuis plus de deux ans" , mais contre laquelle aucune action judiciaire n'a jamais été entreprise. Selon les informations recueillies par Le Monde, il s'agirait, en fait, de la Chinese Students and Scholars Association of Leuven (CSSAL). Elle regrouperait de 400 à 700 étudiants et chercheurs dans cette ville de Flandre où est basée l'Université catholique flamande de Louvain (KUL). Cet établissement a une longue tradition d'accueil d'étudiants chinois.

Trees Deloddere, qui dirige le bureau international de l'université, dit tout ignorer des soupçons éventuels pesant sur le CSSAL, indépendante de la KUL. Elle souligne toutefois que le dossier de chaque étudiant étranger est soumis à un examen attentif et examiné par la Sûreté de l'Etat, le service de renseignement intérieur et extérieur belge. "Pour quatre étudiants chinois admis, nous en refusons six, qui ne répondent pas aux critères requis, à savoir notamment des diplômes de haut niveau et la connaissance des langues" , explique Mme Deloddere.

La présidente chinoise de l'association affirme, elle aussi, tout ignorer des soupçons exprimés par certains services, où l'on dit avoir été alerté par les nombreux et fréquents déplacements des dirigeants de la KUL et leurs liens, discrets, avec les milieux diplomatiques chinois.

Of course, I know members of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association of Leuven, and I helped place a Chinese student in an internship at a technology firm his spring, as well as giving him recommendations for admission at Saarbrücken and the University of Memphis. So, I may have unwittingly been aiding a Chinese spy ring.

Probably not. Not that it's terribly unreasonable to think the Chinese government might want to spy on foreign high-tech firms, or that they would use the sharp increase in Chinese students in Europe as a cover to do so, but the terribly tentative and evidence-free nature of the accusation in Le Monde makes the whole thing seem more like a witch hunt than an actual discovery.

But that part abut "detailed examinations of ever Chinese student's application by the Belgian police and intelligence services" is just so much crap. The PRC could infiltrate a brigade into Belgum before anyone noticed. A lot of the Chinese students here are here because it's a lot cheaper and less complicated than trying to get into post-9/11 America.


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