World, Asia - Pacific

China 'growing threat' to UK, US, say spy chiefs

FBI, MI5 chiefs say China is top of Five Eyes agenda

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 07.07.2022
China 'growing threat' to UK, US, say spy chiefs Photo courtesy: Official FBI Twitter page

ISTANBUL

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a “growing threat” to the interests of the UK and the US, the chiefs of the British and American secret security services have said.

“China is top of the 5EYES Heads’ agenda, and our teams are working together closely on our shared priorities,” the duo said in a rare joint address at the London headquarters of the MI5 on Wednesday.

Besides the US and the UK, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia are part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing pact.

MI5 head Ken McCallum and FBI director Chris Wray described China as a “massive shared challenge.”

“The most game-changing challenge we face comes from the Chinese Communist Party. It’s covertly applying pressure across the globe. This might feel body_abstract. But it’s real and it’s pressing. We need to talk about it. We need to act,” they told a select gathering of officials and business executives.

Beijing is yet to issue a formal response but reports quoting a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington called the allegations as "groundless."

“We will never encourage, support, or condone cyberattacks,” the spokesman said.

In a joint statement, the intelligence chiefs said the Chinese party “adopts a whole-of-state approach in which businesses and individuals are forced by law to co-operate with the party.”

Firms having a presence in the Chinese market are subject to "more attention than you might think,” the intelligence chiefs added.

The MI5 chief accused China of engaging in covert theft, tech transfer, exploiting research, and cybercrime.

“It’s been described as the biggest wealth transfer in human history. MI5 teams see the CCP working to extract UK advantage in multiple ways,” McCallum alleged.

“The CCP is interested in our democratic, media, and legal systems. Not to emulate them, sadly, but to use them for its gain,” he added.

Countering state threats, whether from China, Russia or Iran, needs "a profound whole-of-system response,” he said.

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