Monday, January 17, 2022

Foreign Office expresses concerns about espionage warnings at the Chinese ambassador

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Foreign Office officials have raised concerns with the Chinese Ambassador to the UK over an MI5 warning that an agent on behalf of the ruling Communist Party was involved in “political interference activities” in the UK.

China denied the allegations late Thursday night, saying it had “no need” to “buy influence” in a foreign parliament.

It came after it emerged a senior Labor MP had received donations of more than £500,000 from a woman believed by MI5 to be a Chinese agent.

Barry Gardiner received Christine Ching Kui Lee’s donations—primarily to cover staff costs in his office—over a six-year period and hired her son as a scheduler.

The revelations come after MI5 took the rare step of warning MPs and colleagues about Ms Lee’s cultivating of British politicians in order to secure a “British political landscape” that was “favorable” to China.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in London denied the claims.

“China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs,” they said.

“We have no need and never try to ‘buy influence’ in a foreign parliament. We strongly reject the ploy of defamation and intimidation of the Chinese community in the UK.”

Officials are understood to have raised the security alert for Ms. Lee at the Chinese ambassador on Thursday.

The Home Secretary said it was likely there would be more national security alerts like the one about Ms Lee.

Priti Patel said Britain had “other adversaries” who “would try to interfere or invade our country in any way”.

In the Security Service Interference Alert (SSIA) sent to MPs and colleagues, MI5 said Ms Lee had been acting “undercover” in coordination with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front Work Department (UFWD).

“The UFWD tries to cultivate relationships with influential figures to ensure that the British political landscape is positive about the CCP’s agenda and to challenge those who raise concerns about CCP activities, such as human rights,” she said .

“Lee is committed to facilitating financial donations to political parties, MPs, prospective MPs and individuals seeking political office in the UK, including facilitating donations to political bodies on behalf of non-residents.”

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