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Chinese spies infiltrate Dutch technology firms

Chinese spies operate freely in the Netherlands, providing information on innovative technology companies and on Uighurs - a minority group in China  to the Chinese authorities.

The Dutch intelligence and security service AIVD warned in an annual report released on Thursday that the Netherlands is an easy target for espionage.

The AIVD says foreign intelligence services are likely to be successful in the Netherlands, because there is little awareness of the danger of espionage within the economic sector.

“The Dutch government runs various programmes which attract well-educated and talented Chinese. If they spy for the Chinese authorities, they can expect financial rewards and exceptional privileges upon return,” reports the AIVD.

Dutch Uighur resistance crushed

The Chinese authorities have also infiltrated the Uighur community in the Netherlands. The Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims, who make up about 45 percent of the population of the north western Xinjiang region.

There has been tight security in parts of Xinjiang since July 2009 when ethnic violence erupted in the regional capital Urumqi, leaving some 200 people - mostly Han Chinese - dead.

In the Netherlands, the Uighurs – who are calling for more autonomy in Xinjiang - hold regular demonstrations against the Chinese authorities, organise meetings and post anti-government films on internet. China regards their activities as a threat to the unity of the country.

It tries to crush resistance by blackmailing relatives of the Dutch Uighurs back in China. If the Muslim Uighurs in the Netherlands do not bow to threats from China, their relatives at home are denied basic medical care and education.

Uighur terrorist list

At the beginning of April, China's police agency published a list of terrorism suspects and named six ethnic Uighurs, who authorities alleged, were core members of a terrorist group. The ministry said the named suspects belonged to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, designated by the US and the UN as a terror group.

The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups that live in northern, central and western Asia, northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. China re-established control of the Uighur region in 1949 after crushing the short-lived state of East Turkestan. Since then, many Han Chinese have moved to the region and now make up 40 percent of the population.