Belgian MP Steven Creyelman, brother of alleged Chinese spy Frank Creyelman, has resigned from his position as chair of an influential parliamentary committee after accusations he was also involved in a Chinese influence operation.
The Vlaams Belang politician had not disclosed a warning from the Belgian State Security service that he might be more involved in Chinese influence attempts than initially thought.
Text messages between Frank Creyelman and Daniel Woo, a suspected Chinese spy, show Woo made more than one approach to Steven, who then was chair of the Committee on Military Procurement.
The committee deals with matters including arms deliveries to Ukraine and orders for the Belgian military.
The text messages were uncovered in a joint investigation by the Financial Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and Belgian newspaper De Tijd.
There is no suggestion that Steven Creyelman knowingly played a role in Chinese espionage activities.
However, his choice to remain silent about the warning from Belgian State Security, despite holding a sensitive post in Parliament, has now been criticised both by his own party and others.
Steven Creyelman only told his party about the warning on December 21, prompting Vlaams Belang to ask for his resignation as chair of the committee.
“Steven Creyelman has in recent days given insufficient and incomplete information to the party and its chairman about contacts with his brother,” the party said.
“Amid the emotion of the past few days, Steven made a grave error of judgement by not informing the party about this,” it added.
In one message, Frank Creyelman said his brother “was eager” to speak with the Chinese spy, a meeting that never happened.
In January 2020, Frank and Woo texted each other about Chinese telecom giant Huawei and the Confucius Institute, which have both been described as platforms for Chinese government influence overseas.
Other conversations seem more problematic for Steven Creyelman.
Woo asked him, via his brother, to ask questions in parliament.
Frank also said in the uncovered messages that he had written a parliamentary resolution for his brother to introduce.
While this did not mention China explicitly, it aimed at “creating a firewall” against sanctions by proposing sanctions be subject to a parliamentary investigative committee review.
Woo did note Steven Creyelman “wasn’t fully embracing the Chinese perspective.”
“But as I’ve checked on social media, he is not very pro-East, and his job position did not relate to the matters we were interested in,” Woo said in one message.
Frank Creyelman agreed with Woo, saying, “Indeed, my brother is too gentle, but he can be persuaded…He’s just not proactive enough, and his position makes him somewhat Atlantic-oriented. Too many military guys around him.”