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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In the past week, intelligence agencies in the Netherlands, Finland and Canada expressed deep concern about China's espionage and political influence in democracies.

Why it matters: Three years ago, the U.S. was something of a global outlier in its strident warnings against China. Now democratic countries around the world are echoing the same fears.

The Netherlands: Last week, the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) released a report on threats to Dutch national security interests. The report was blunt in its criticism of China, stating that Beijing's cyber espionage poses an "imminent threat" to the Dutch economy, in sectors including banking, energy and infrastructure.

  • "Behind the scenes, China is rising on the agenda of the Dutch intelligence services. Spearheaded by the AIVD and NCTV, the focus is on economic espionage and political influence," Ties Dams, a research fellow at the Clingendael China Centre at the Clingendael Institute, told Axios.
  • "With the upcoming elections in March, this is the intelligence community signaling that China has to be prioritized," said Dams.

Finland: Antti Pelttari, director of the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, said last week that “authoritarian countries are trying to get hold of Finland’s critical infrastructure," referring to China and Russia.

  • Pelttari also said he believes Huawei should not be permitted to build Finland's 5G networks.

Canada: David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said last week that China is "pursuing a strategy for geopolitical advantage on all fronts — economic, technological, political, and military — and using all elements of state power to carry out activities that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty."

  • “These activities ... cross the line by attempting to undermine our democratic processes or threaten our citizens in a covert and clandestine manner," Vigneault said.

Go deeper

Virginia governor orders probe into pepper-spraying of Army officer

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, Va. in 2019. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday he's ordered the state police to conduct an independent investigation into a traffic stop during which two officers pepper-sprayed and drew guns on an Army lieutenant.

Driving the news: Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is suing the police officers over the incident, which attracted widespread criticism after video footage emerged. Northam said in a statement he found the incident "disturbing" and that it angered him.

Biden pollster urges blunt tax talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The top pollster for Joe Biden's presidential campaign is advising the White House to do something that often makes Democrats nervous: Talk loudly and proudly about raising taxes on the rich.

Why it matters: John Anzalone tells Axios his extensive polling and research has found that few issues receive broader support than raising taxes on corporations and people earning more than $400,000 a year.

On the front lines of the growing border crisis

A migrant mother and her children sit in the dirt at a temporary processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen, Texas. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios

At night, parents with young children march through the brush after crossing the Rio Grande River in the pitch black. By day, unaccompanied kids arrive at shelters, in one instance 17 of 17 testing positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: Axios accompanied a delegation of Republican lawmakers to South Texas last week — followed by a unilateral visit to El Paso — to see in real-time the challenges fueled by a border surge, the effects of actions taken by the previous administration, and the lagging response by the new one.