Dutch ambassador to Beijing suspended over affair amid honeytrap fears

Ron Keller (58) recalled from China after relationship with staff member revealed

The ministry of foreign affairs in The Hague has confirmed it’s looking into claims that Ron Keller was involved in a sexual relationship with the female employee

The ministry of foreign affairs in The Hague has confirmed it’s looking into claims that Ron Keller was involved in a sexual relationship with the female employee

 

The Dutch ambassador to Beijing has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations that he had a secret relationship with a Chinese staff member at his embassy – raising the possibility that he may have been the victim of a classic “honeytrap”.

The ministry of foreign affairs in The Hague has confirmed it’s looking into claims that Ron Keller (58) – an experienced diplomat whose previous postings have included Moscow, Ankara and Kiev – was involved in a sexual relationship with the female employee.

The department would not comment on the ambassador’s suspension other than to say that Mr Keller, who is unmarried, could not “remain actively in post” during the investigation, which had been authorised “following a complaint”.

Chinese agents

Foreign diplomats in China are frequently advised against relationships with “local staff” because of the risk, apparently, that they could be “compromised” by women acting as agents of the Chinese government and divulge sensitive information of a political or economic nature.

While that may seem far-fetched in a post-cold war world, British prime minister Theresa May’s officials were warned by government security experts only last month to avoid honey traps involving “Chinese spies offering sex” during the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

British officials have been caught before. In one notorious incident in 2008, an aide to then prime minister Gordon Brown had his Blackberry stolen by a woman he met at a disco and with whom he returned to his hotel. She was later alleged to have been a Chinese intelligence officer.

Uncertain claims

What exactly happened between the Dutch ambassador and this particular employee, however, remains unclear. There is certainly no evidence in the public domain to support suggestions of a honey trap.

The exact nature of the complaint against Mr Keller and who made it are also unclear.

In response, the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs would say only: “We always take complaints seriously. Their responsible handing means we cannot make any further statements.”

Mr Keller – who is now back in the Netherlands – had been in China since a diplomatic reshuffle last December.

Some unconfirmed reports suggest that since then his relationship had become “the talk of the embassy”, that the woman had visited his official residence several times – and, potentially most damaging, that they may have exchanged compromising photographs.