New Evidence Shows Beijing Secretly Recruited European Politician for Defamation Attacks Against VOC Researcher

A media investigation has unearthed new evidence of Beijing’s secret defamatory campaign against Dr. Adrian Zenz, Director of China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC). Investigations by The Financial TimesLe Monde, and Der Spiegel based on secret text messages obtained from a western security source show Chinese State Security agents offering money to European intelligence assets in exchange for “attack[ing] the reputation of Adrian Zenz.”

These events form part of Beijing’s extensive smear campaigns against Dr. Zenz, following his groundbreaking research uncovering mass internments, forced labor, and birth prevention targeting Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in China’s Xinjiang region. The revelations also demonstrate how Chinese security agents sought to influence public opinion and politics in Europe, with the aim of suppressing criticism of China, sowing division in European societies, and creating a rift between Europe and the United States.

Beijing has been engaging in covert operations to sway public opinion within the European Parliament and to discredit Dr. Zenz and his research. Detailed in an extensive report, these operations have revealed Beijing’s employment of a far-right Belgian politician, Frank Creyelman, who was instructed to help undermine Zenz’s credibility. This task was part of a “paid project,” where the Chinese agent explicitly stated the objective was to “attack Adrian Zenz’s reputation” and to “dig up every one of his scandals.”​

In January 2021, a Chinese intelligence agent, identified as “Daniel Woo,” directed this politician to use his extensive network to launch an attack on Dr. Zenz’s reputation. This directive came shortly after Dr. Zenz published evidence of mass forced labor in Xinjiang’s cotton fields in collaboration with the BBC, triggering global outrage and a US government ban on imports of Xinjiang cotton.

Internal agent chats revealed by Der Spiegel showed how Chinese intelligence harnessed European far-right parties, including the Alternative for Germany (AfD), as part of a broader strategy to divide the West​​. These communications detailed the involvement of a Chinese intelligence officer, where the officer boasted about pressuring the German government and influencing the narrative surrounding Hong Kong democracy movements​.

“We are deeply alarmed yet wholly unsurprised by these revelations,” said VOC’s CEO Ken Pope. “Such blatant acts of espionage and attempted character assassination against our researcher are not just an attack on him, but an attack on freedom of research and expression across the globe. Such underhanded tactics only strengthen our resolve to expose truths that Beijing is trying desperately to conceal.”

Dr. Zenz and VOC have long been at the forefront of exposing human rights abuses in China. After his seminal report in 2020 demonstrating targeted forced sterilization of Uyghur women, the US government released an official genocide determination that marked a significant turn in the global discourse on Xinjiang’s human rights situation. This also triggered an aggressive response from Beijing aimed at discrediting Zenz and suppressing his findings.

In March 2021, Beijing sanctioned Zenz, a move widely seen as retaliation for his fact-based exposure of atrocities in Xinjiang largely based on China’s own documents, and held a dedicated press conference accusing him of “fabrication” hosted by Beijing’s deputy head of propaganda, Xu Guixiang. Zenz has also faced legal threats from Xinjiang-based companies, acknowledging “economic damage” due to his research findings on Uyghur forced labor.

“This incident underscores the critical importance and impact of Dr. Zenz’s and VOC’s work,” said Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, President of VOC. “The attempts to discredit his rigorous and well-substantiated research—which Beijing is desperate to refute but cannot, given most of it is based on their own official documents—only validate its significance in exposing the atrocities committed under communist regimes.”

For press inquiries contact Lily McHale at or (202) 629-9500 ext. 415