China: Diplomat in Japan Not a Spy

Posted May 30th, 2012 at 6:00 am (UTC-5)
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China is rejecting Japanese media reports that suggest a Chinese diplomat was spying on businessmen and politicians in Japan.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Wednesday the accusations against the diplomat, whom he identified as Li Chunguang, are groundless.

“He is a researcher who has been doing research on Japan for a long time. He was then temporarily transferred to the economic department of the Chinese Embassy in Japan, from the Academy of Social Sciences. He has finished his tenure and come back to China. Some media reports of Li Chunguang carrying out spying activities are groundless.”

Japanese media reports said Tuesday that Li had refused to surrender to police and fled to China amid the espionage allegations. The reports described him as a former member of China's intelligence service and a first secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.

The 45-year-old is accused of opening up bank accounts using fraudulent documents and engaging in unauthorized commercial activities. Reports say he is suspected of attempting to collect information on Japanese businessmen under the direction of the Chinese military.

The case highlights long-standing tensions between China and Japan. The economic rivals have also been involved in a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited, but resource-rich, islands in the East China Sea.