The Chinese language authorities and lawmakers in Hong Kong have lashed out on the UK after its intelligence company MI5 warned that an alleged spy had infiltrated parliament to improperly affect British politicians on behalf of China.
Christine Lee, a 58-year Anglo-Chinese language lawyer, was accused of making an attempt to sway UK lawmakers whereas facilitating donations from figures in Hong Kong and the Chinese language mainland, in response to a safety briefing circulated to MPs and friends on Thursday.
Former Labour minister Barry Gardiner acquired greater than £500,000 from Ms Lee’s regulation agency to cowl staffing prices, whereas a lot smaller sums got to Labour HQ and Liberal Democrat chief Ed Davey.
The alleged agent, a London-based solicitor, was given an award by Theresa Might when she was prime minister in 2019, and former chief David Cameron was photographed talking in at a 2016 occasion for a Chinese language “engagement” group that Ms Lee based.
Overseas Workplace officers have raised considerations with China’s ambassador to the UK over the difficulty, however the Chinese language embassy in London denied the allegations late on Thursday night time, saying it had “no want” to “purchase affect” in any international parliament.
“We firmly oppose the trick of smearing and intimidation in opposition to the Chinese language neighborhood within the UK,” the embassy’s spokesperson stated within the assertion.
Former Hong Kong Chief Government Chun-ying Leung additionally criticised the UK authorities and accused London of double requirements.
“If political donations from China and Hong Kong are considered as acts of espionage, there are too many British spies in Hong Kong who’re making direct or oblique donations and selling the ‘western agenda’ to legislators within the capability of barristers, professors, NGOs,” he wrote on his Fb web page. “These individuals would all be spies then.”
Regina Ip, a prime adviser to Hong Kong’s chief Carrie Lam, made an identical argument on Twitter.
She stated that the the Chinese language-controlled territory may by the identical measure stage accusations in opposition to international rights activists – referring to Benedict Rogers by title – who’ve continually voiced considerations concerning the deteriorating state of civil liberties there.
On Chinese language social media platform Weibo, The Unbiased recognized a number of posts expressing sarcastic “disbelief” concerning the attain of China’s supposed infiltration marketing campaign. “We’ve already infiltrated the British parliament? That’s superb,” one netizen wrote.
“Are we now highly effective sufficient to intrude with the British parliament?” wrote one other netizen. “Are they going to accuse us of interfering with the Queen’s home issues?”
Different netizens in each China and Hong Kong accused the UK of hypocrisy, and questioned whether or not all donations made by the US and UK in Hong Kong can be thought-about as infiltration makes an attempt. Some Weibo customers stated MI5’s warning might be a part of a coordinated smear marketing campaign by the West earlier than the Beijing Winter Olympics begin subsequent month.
“Western international locations have united as soon as once more to create rumors,” the netizen wrote. “Every time China is about to host main occasions, they may at all times do one thing like this. The tactic is getting actually outdated and tiring.”
The allegation in opposition to Ms Lee is one among interference as a way to achieve covert affect within the UK and never intelligence gathering, in response to Whitehall sources.
The UK’s dwelling secretary Priti Patel stated stronger legal guidelines have been wanted since Ms Lee’s exercise was “underneath the legal threshold” – warning that it’s possible there will probably be extra safety alerts just like the one issued on Thursday.
The Unbiased has contacted Ms Lee’s regulation agency for remark.