Dutch PM Raises Cyberespionage with China's Xi During Beijing Talks

By Business OutstandersPUBLISHED: March 29, 17:08
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 27, 2024. China Daily via REUTERS

During a meeting in Beijing, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, discussed a cyberespionage incident with China's President Xi Jinping that the Netherlands has attributed to the Chinese state.

According to a report from Dutch intelligence agency MIVD last month, Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors gained access to a Dutch military network in 2021. The MIVD characterized this as part of a trend of Chinese political espionage targeting the Netherlands and its allies. This was the first time the Dutch publicly attributed cyberespionage to China, reflecting growing national security tensions between the two countries. There are also disagreements over restrictions on exports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment from Dutch company ASML to China.

Beijing routinely denies allegations of cyberespionage and opposes all forms of cyberattacks. On Monday, U.S. and British officials filed charges, imposed sanctions, and accused Beijing of conducting a widespread cyberespionage campaign alleged to have impacted millions, including lawmakers, academics, journalists, and defense contractors.

When asked about the discussions, Prime Minister Rutte confirmed cyberattacks were part of the dialog with President Xi. Specifically, he noted the MIVD-attributed intrusion targeting the Dutch Ministry of Defense network. Tensions between Beijing and Western powers regarding issues linked to state-sponsored cyber activities have increased as Western intelligence agencies warn of growing Chinese hacking operations. China has also begun calling out alleged Western cyber operations in recent years.​

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