Belgian intelligence service scrutinising Alibaba’s presence at Liege airport

(Reuters) -Belgian officials are looking into risks around the presence of China’s Alibaba Group Holding at a cargo airport in the city of Liege, the country’s intelligence service VSSE said in a statement on Thursday.

Referring to the company’s main European logistics centre at Liege Airport, the security service said it was working to “detect and fight against possible spying and/or interference activities carried out by Chinese entities including Alibaba”.

Belgian authorities are looking into Alibaba’s operations at the airport based on an analysis of China’s legal framework, the statement added.

The presence of Alibaba “still constitutes a point of attention” for the VSSE, it said, due to legislation which obligates Chinese companies to share data with Chinese authorities and intelligence services.

The Financial Times, which first reported the news, said Alibaba denied any wrongdoing. Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Alibaba signed an agreement with the Belgium government in 2018 to open an e-commerce trade hub, run by its logistics arm Cainiao, that would include investment in logistics infrastructure.

The Chinese e-commerce giant last month filed to list Cainiao on the Hong Kong stock exchange, which would make the unit the first to be separated since Alibaba said in March it would restructure and split its business into six units.

(Reporting by Jyoti Narayan and Nilutpal Timsina in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue, Robert Birsel, Kirsten Donovan)