In a vital quest to emerge as the global superpower, China has embedded spies in several Asian and European nations to promote the Chinese line of thought.
The British military intelligence, MI5, recently exposed the network of Chinese spies in the UK aimed at converting foreign politicians to Communist China’s philosophy.
According to the Hong Kong Post, the case of Christine Lee in the UK became sensational among the British elite. The Hong Kong-born British lawyer was frequently seen in Parliament hobnobbing with ministers and even had a photo taken in 2019 with a Prime Minister, Theresa May, who also gave her an award.
This January, the award was cancelled after the MI5 reported that Lee “was covertly working for China”. This was the first instance when a foreign intelligence agency formally named China as the culprit organising espionage on foreign territory, the report added.
In the British spy network case, Christine Lee confessed to intelligence agencies that she worked as a ‘legal adviser’ to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, a division of the Works Department and her website in China which is now closed, once had a picture of Lee shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a public gathering where the Works Department chief was also present.
Meanwhile, Mike Burgess, the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), told the local media, “Espionage and foreign interference have supplanted terrorism as our principal security concern,” additionally informing that the department handling the spy network is said to be the United Front Work Department, a branch of the Chinese Communist Party.
Apart from Britons and Australians, the Americans are concerned of ‘covert attempts by China to bend local politicians to its will’. A media report claimed that the alarms grew louder during the presidency of Donald Trump.
‘China is expanding its influence efforts to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and counter-criticism of China,’ said William Evanina, then the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Centre, in 2020.”
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) also said it had observed ‘persistent and sophisticated State-sponsored threat activity targeting elections for many years now and showed concern about actions by ‘countries like Russia and China,’ The Hong Kong Post reported.
However, the intelligence agencies are now sharing the outcome of their investigations with one another for better coordination in future and to tackle China’s vicious agendas.
In a previous incident, US Federal prosecutors charged agents with harassment and spying on Chinese nationals living in the United States who have been critical of Beijing.
Notably, in February, a Canadian Court also held a Chinese Government agency Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO) was involved in espionage activities ‘that harmed Canada’s interests’.