Conservative MP Bob Dechert, who acts as parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, apologized on Friday for sending “flirtatious” emails to Shi Rong, a Toronto-based correspondent for China’s state-run news agency. In a statement, Dechert insisted his relationship with the Chinese journalists is an “innocent” friendship. Dechert’s amorous messages to Shi were made public when more than 240 emails were released to journalists, and members the political and business establishment. In his statement, Dechert said Shi’s email was hacked as a result of an “ongoing domestic dispute.” Speaking with the Globe and Mail, Shi added that it was her husband who had made the messages public. Dechert, the MP for Mississuaga-Erindale, says he met Shi when conducting Chinese-language media interviews. China’s Xinhua news agency, for which Shi works, has been likened to an intelligence agency for the Chinese government. The media organization reports directly to the country’s ruling Communist Party. Last year, CSIS director Richard Fadden made public his concern that the Chinese intelligence officials were influencing some senior members governments in Canada.