When German Chancellor Angela Merkel flies to Beijing in July, she will have plenty of the usual accolades for the Chinese. She will say that relations between the two countries are excellent and communication is amicable and intense. “I believe that one can say that relations are gaining a lot of momentum,” the chancellor typically says on such occasions.
What Merkel will probably not mention publicly is the other side of the German-Chinese relationship, which is also gathering momentum. It takes place in the world of espionage and intelligence agencies, and it has to do with Chinese agents in Germany, secret investigations and discreet diplomats. This dark side sometimes comes to the surface, as it did in a town near the northern German city of Hanover, where a team from the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), appeared at the house of Dan Sun (editors’ note: the name has been changed) on a Wednesday morning in mid-May and presented a search warrant.
Dan Sun, a slim, amiable man, opened the door and asked the men to come into his study, where there is a statue of Buddha on a shelf and the air smells of incense. The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office is investigating Sun on suspicion of working as an intelligence agent. The investigators accuse him of having spied on members of the Falun Gong movement for the Chinese intelligence service. He can expect an indictment, but the investigators are, in fact, more interested in two high-ranking Chinese government officials from Shanghai who are also alleged of being involved in the case.