China has denied reports that its spy agency has been using social media to infiltrate German politics and business.

“We hope the relevant German organisations, particularly government departments, can speak and act more responsibly, and not do things that are not beneficial to the development of bilateral relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said on December 10 that some 10,000 German citizens had been targeted in an intelligence operation by Chinese spies.

“Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way,” the BfV said.

BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen said China’s spy agency created several fake profiles posing as those of consultants, policy experts, scholars and headhunters. Many of the profiles include pictures of stylish young professionals.

One of the accounts was credited to “Laeticia Chen”, who claimed to be a manager at the “China Center of International Politics and Economy”. The profile image was taken from an online fashion catalogue.

“The infections are difficult to detect, since network connections between service providers and their customers aren’t suspicious,” the BfV said. “This gives the attacker an even better disguise than before.”