China denies reports of professor spying in Belgium

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BEIJING (AP) — China says media reports that a professor leading a Beijing-backed language and culture institute in Belgium was involved in spying are untrue.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday some Western media have published "false reports of distortions about the Confucius Institute."

The professor, Song Xinning, told The Associated Press by phone that the Brussels immigration office gave him a notice stating that his visa would not be renewed because he "supported Chinese intelligence agencies' spying and interference activities in Belgium."

A spokesman for Belgium's VSSE state security service declined to discuss the case.

Song's institute is based at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Confucius Institutes at universities around the world have come under increasing scrutiny as some accuse them of being tools of Chinese Communist Party propaganda and influence.

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