A mass email distributed this week contains messages sent to Shi Rong of the Xinhua News Agency from Mississauga–Erindale MP Bob Dechert's parliamentary email account.
"The person is a journalist whom I have come to know as a friend. I met her while doing Chinese-language media communications," Dechert said in a statement Friday.
"My understanding is that her emails were hacked as part of an ongoing domestic dispute. These emails are flirtatious, but the friendship remained innocent and simply that — a friendship.
"I apologize for any harm caused to anyone by this situation."
He was not immediately available for comment.
Dechert is parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. In that role, he is privy to sensitive government information.
He accompanied Prime Minister Stephen Harper to China in 2009, and clippings from a local Mississauga newspaper suggest he has a keen interest in Chinese business and trade.
Xinhua is the state-run news agency of the People's Republic of China.
Icy relations between Beijing and the Conservative government have only recently begun to thaw.
Harper is expected to make another visit to China later this year.
An email to the Gmail address Dechert used to correspond with Shi bounced back. She could not immediately be reached by phone.
A Globe and Mail report cites Shi as saying her husband hacked her email account.
The emails are reportedly all dated from 2010.
According to the Globe, an April 17, 2010 email from Dechert says: "You are so beautiful. I really like the picture of you by the water with your cheeks puffed. That look is so cute, I love it when you do that. Now, I miss you even more.”
Another email sent April 19, 2010 urged Shi to watch a vote in the House of Commons.
"I will smile at you. I miss you. Love, Bob."
House of Commons records show Dechert voted three times that day.
The Prime Minister's Office says there is nothing to suggest Dechert acted inappropriately.
"Mr. Dechert has denied any inappropriate behaviour," spokesman Andrew MacDougall said in an email.
"We have no information to suggest otherwise."
Dechert chaired the so-called Blue Committee, a group of mainly Ontario conservatives who wanted to move the Progressive Conservative party more to the political right. Among other things, the group advocated working with the Reform party.
He was born in Brampton, Ont., and worked as a lawyer before he was first elected as an MP in 2008.
His website says he is married to Ruth Clark.