An 86-page internal report with contributions by former UK Secret Intelligence Service MI6 operatives reveals that China is running a campaign to influence Britain society at its highest levels, including the country’s politicians, institutions, academics, thinkers, and businessmen. Though it was not made public, a few MPs and media outlets were allowed accesses.
Influencing politics and society
The internal report warns that Britain’s rigid societal structure has been very naïve with regard to China’s real intentions for the UK, believing that they can deal with the Asian nation through a policy that solely focuses on trade. It states that “elite capture” comes with a wide range of characteristics, which include “useful idiots” who might take Beijing’s side out of misplaced beliefs and full-time agents who consciously work for the Chinese Communist Party.
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According to the internal report, China’s main objectives in the UK are — using 5G network in Britain as an entry point to European markets, setting up a strong pro-Chinese presence in national infrastructures like telecoms and nuclear plants, influencing the UK in a way that it supports Chinese policies internationally, and undermining the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that the UK has with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.
Leaks of the internal report have inevitably triggered a strong reaction within the UK, with many worried about China’s increased infiltration at all levels of British society. “We need a new relationship with China, part of that is ensuring that our political and business environment is free from malign or covert influence operations. We have been too unknowing, and frankly too complacent, for too long,” Bob Seely, a Conservative MP, said to Sky News.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, refuted the allegations in the report, rejecting the claim that China ever tries to interfere in Britain’s internal affairs. However, such claims fall flat when one looks at how Chinese companies in Britain desist from making anti-Beijing statements.
Huawei UK vice president Jeremy Thompson recently refused to comment against the national security law implemented by Beijing in Hong Kong. The executive wriggled out of the question by stating that he does not have a view on the issue, which is as good as admitting that he does not wish to say anything against the Chinese government.
A recent book entitled Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World also exposes how deep China has cultivated pro-Beijing adherents in the UK. According to the book, prominent Chinese-origin Britons work with the communist regime to promote Chinese interests in the country.
Children of prominent members of the Communist Party are given jobs at major international banks. Beijing is also using “honey traps” to spy on influential political figures. The book warns that several politicians, belonging to both the right and left, are being used to push pro-Beijing people to the top of the government.
Kicking out Huawei
Meanwhile, the UK government is reportedly all set to prevent Huawei from being involved in any way in setting up the country’s 5G infrastructure. Earlier, the administration had decided to allow Huawei a limited role in the 5G network. However, pressure from Washington is said to have forced the British government to reconsider its decision and eventually block Huawei.
According to the new plan, British phone companies will be banned from using any Huawei component in their 5G mobiles by the end of 2020. Once that is done, all Huawei equipment that has already been installed by telecom companies in their 5G infrastructure has to be removed by 2027.