Swiss Scholar: European Countries Infiltrated by Chinese Communist Party

After Czech Senate President Vestercil’s visit to Taiwan in August this year, an organization claimed that Vestercil received benefits from Taiwan before visiting Taiwan. The report, which was published in the Czech media, found that the organization accusing Vestercil was a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda agency, and the accusation was unfounded and a smear campaign. In an interview with this station, the academic said that many European countries are aware of the Chinese Communist Party’s united front and infiltration and are pondering how to deal with it.

In a report published in the Czech media on Wednesday (11 March), Aktuálně said that an organization had “leaked” to local media that Miloš Vystrčil, the second-in-line to the Czech Republic and president of the Senate, had visited Taiwan earlier because he had received US$4 million from Taiwan. It was also alleged that the money was provided by Taiwan to Westergill to run for president in 2023. However, after investigation, it was found that the so-called accusation is an unfounded smear campaign, and that the organization that “broke the news” is in fact the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltrated propaganda agency in Europe.

The investigative report published by Current Affairs explains the smear process of the Chinese Communist Party’s agencies. The editorial department of Current Affairs received emails from Michael Winkler, manager of the Swiss consulting firm RefinSol, and his assistant, Robert J. Mojzes, reporting Westergill for quoting a French news website, as well as the discussion sites Reddit and Twitter, both of which were deemed inadmissible. The letter has long been deleted.

Winkler and Moses were traced to the Swiss pro-Chinese Communist Party media outlet EurAsia Info, where Winkler wrote, among other things, “Xi Jinping: A Responsible Leader in Switzerland,” praising Xi’s “deep knowledge” of China and Switzerland and his “clear and unambiguous style,” as well as numerous articles supporting the Communist Party’s “Belt and Road” policies, among others.

Current Affairs reported that Moses denied the smear campaign, saying they only provide anti-corruption information.

Radio Free Asia followed up the Current Affairs report with an interview with Ralph Weber, an associate professor at the University of Basel and the European Institute for Global Studies in Switzerland, who is familiar with European and Chinese affairs, to learn more about the background of the Eurasia Times. Weber told us that China has been actively engaged in united front work in Switzerland and the Czech Republic in recent years.

The newspaper in question publishes online in both Chinese and English, Weber said. It publishes a lot of information about China-EU relations from the Chinese embassy,” Weber said. The founder of the organization is associated with the European Jiangxi Association of Hometown, the European Jiangxi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the European Jiangxi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, all of which are linked to each other. My understanding is that Eurasia Times is definitely a united front organization, as can be seen from the content of the news, but also from its links with the Chinese embassy and consulates in Switzerland.

The Eurasia Times has special correspondents in major European cities and in Taiwan, and organizes the Eurasian International Forum, which is known to promote economic, trade and cultural exchanges between Europe and China. The President of Jiangxi Chamber of Commerce is Irene Chu, who manages the Swiss Eurasia Group and bills herself as “the ambassador of communication between China and Europe”. The Jiangxi Chamber of Commerce reportedly has a common membership with the European region’s China Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification. These Communist Party-linked organizations are all housed in a building in Zurich, Switzerland.

Weber believes that these organisations are infiltrated by the Chinese Communist Party and that the united front of the Chinese Communist Party not only has good relations with Europeans, but also wants to influence the local political, economic and cultural spheres. In particular, he mentioned the situation of the Communist Party’s united front work in Europe.

Sweden, the Czech Republic and Germany have started to discuss China’s united front work, and a number of countries are studying how to respond to such a move by China, but they agreed to take care not to create xenophobic attitudes, because in countries that are liberal democracies, you can’t completely ban speech.

Westerchel told the media that “the allegations are blatant and absurd lies”. He also said it was the first time he had heard of false accusations against him personally and was seeking expert advice to protect his interests.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the so-called “revelations” were pure rumour mongering. Earlier this year, Current Affairs revealed that the Chinese Embassy in Prague had sent a threatening letter to the late Senate President Jaroslav Kubera, preventing him from leading a delegation to Taiwan. Kubera died a few days after receiving the letter. Vestercil had earlier led the highest-ranking Czech delegation to Taiwan since the country’s democratization in 1989. He said in a speech at the Legislative Yuan, “I am a Taiwanese”. The incident has spurred the Chinese Communist Party on, with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi threatening to make the Czech Republic “pay a heavy price”. Earlier, the Czech intelligence agency BIS released its annual report, warning of attempts by Chinese spies to interfere with Czech media.