In a discreet yet decisive move, the French government has expelled two Chinese intelligence operatives after uncovering their involvement in an attempt to forcibly repatriate a political dissident.

The head of the Paris office of China’s Ministry of State Security (MSE), along with his deputy, was asked to leave France following accusations of orchestrating the abduction of 26-year-old Chinese dissident Ling Huazhan in March.


The Elysée Palace directed this action, emphasizing the need to handle the situation without exacerbating diplomatic tensions with Beijing.

The dramatic events unfolded on March 22 at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. France’s border police, the DNPAF, observed a group of seven individuals forcibly restraining Ling and attempting to escort him onto a plane bound for China.

Intervention by the DNPAF thwarted the plan, revealing a clandestine operation to repatriate Ling, who is described by France’s DGSI domestic intelligence agency as a “psychologically fragile person.”

Ling Huazhan, who fled to Europe to escape persecution, has been a vocal critic of Chinese President Xi Jinping. His actions included anti-Xi graffiti and the dissemination of critical articles on social media.

His precarious existence near Paris’s Saint Lazare train station was further complicated when his passport was allegedly stolen from a Chinese-run business in the area.

According to the DGSI, this business operated as a covert “police station,” part of a global network used by Beijing to exert control over Chinese nationals abroad, particularly political dissidents.


Despite Chinese officials’ claims of a misunderstanding and efforts to demonstrate good faith, the French authorities remained unconvinced.

The investigation revealed that the leader of the attempted kidnapping was none other than the head of the MSE post in France, who, along with his deputy, enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

This immunity, however, did not shield them from expulsion when the French government determined their actions violated international norms and France’s sovereignty.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed the expulsion to Le Monde, explaining that the process was handled “by mutual agreement” to mitigate diplomatic fallout.

The ministry’s discreet approach underscores the delicate nature of France-China relations, especially amid broader geopolitical tensions involving China’s global influence and human rights record.

Ling Huazhan’s plight highlights the persistent reach of Chinese intelligence operations, even on foreign soil. According to the DGSI, Ling continues to face “pressure from Chinese intelligence services,” including distressing calls from family members coerced by Chinese authorities to urge him to cease his activism.

This incident is part of a broader pattern of Chinese actions against dissidents abroad, raising concerns about the extent of China’s extraterritorial enforcement of its laws.

France’s response, while firm, also reflects the complex balancing act required in maintaining diplomatic relations while upholding principles of human rights and national sovereignty.

The expulsion of the Chinese spies marks a significant moment in France’s stance against foreign interference, especially concerning human rights violations. It sends a clear message that while diplomatic relations are valued, actions that undermine France’s legal and ethical standards will not be tolerated.


This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members