The British security agency MI5 has claimed that a ‘spy’ for Communist China has managed to infiltrate the UK parliament.
A spy for Communist China has managed to infiltrate the UK parliament, according to claims made by domestic intelligence agency MI5.
As reported by the group, Christine Ching Kui Lee, who has reportedly been active in parliamentary circles, engaged in “the facilitation of financial donations to political parties, parliamentarians, aspiring parliamentarians and individuals seeking political office in the UK” in “covert co-ordination” with a department of the Chinese Communist Party.
“Lee has publicly stated that her activities are to represent the UK Chinese community and increase diversity,” read MI5’s “Security Service Interference Alert”, according to The Telegraph. “However the aforementioned activity has been undertaken in covert co-ordination with the UFWD, with funding provided by foreign nationals located in China and Hong Kong.”
The UFWD — or United Front Work Department — is responsible for carrying out influence operations for China in order to “co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party”, according to the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission.
“We judge that the UFWD is seeking to covertly interfere in UK politics through establishing links with established and aspiring parliamentarians across the political spectrum,” the MI5 alert also stated. “The UFWD seeks to cultivate relationships with influential figures in order to ensure the UK political landscape is favourable to the CCP’s agenda and to challenge those that raise concerns about CCP activity, such as human rights.”
“Lee has been engaged in the facilitation of financial donations to political parties, parliamentarians, aspiring parliamentarians and individuals seeking political office in the UK, including facilitating donations to political entities on behalf of foreign nationals,” the alert continued.
The Telegraph also reports that Lee is listed as a donor to Labour MP and former Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Barry Gardiner.
A Document on the official website of the UK parliament lists “Christine Lee & Co” as a donor to the MP, with giving amounting to nearly £60,000 over two years.
According to a report by The Guardian, alerts like the one issued by the MI5 in relation to Lee are exceedingly rare, with no alert having ever been released before in relation to China, and only one ever in relation to Russia.
Speaking on the issue, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said that while she knew people would be “deeply concerned” over the report, she said that there are “strong structures the United Kingdom has in place to identify foreign interference or any potential threats to our democracy”.
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China is of considerable interest to the UK’s intelligence apparatus, with one spy chief describing the rise of the communist regime as the UK’s “single greatest priority”.
Richard Moore, who serves as chief of Britain’s foreign security service, MI6, noted how the country was attempting to gain influence internationally using measures such as so-called “debt trap” tactics.
“China is an authoritarian state, with different values from ours,” Moore said regarding the threat China posed.
However, while the idea of a Chinese spy in Westminster actually being uncovered is novel, it is not the first time that people close to elected officials have been accused of spying for foreign governments.
Katia Zatuliveter — an aide to former Liberal Democrats MP, Mike Hancock — was arrested in 2010 over allegations that she was a spy working for the Russian Government.
While it was later ruled that the aide was having an affair with Hancock, the UK’s Special Immigration Appeals Commission stated that there was not enough evidence to back up the espionage allegations and her deportation order was overturned.