Chinese spies are targeting the UK, warns MI6 chief

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Chinese intelligence is increasing “massive” espionage operations against Britain and its allies as it seeks to steal technology and distort political decision-making, the head of MI6 has warned.

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In his first public speech since taking office last year, Richard Moore said the threat posed by a newly assertive China is now the “single biggest priority” for his agency.

Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, he warned of a “miscalculation” by an over-confident regime in Beijing that an issue like Taiwan could pose a “serious challenge” to global peace.


In a sweeping address, Mr Moore said Russia continues to represent a “grave threat” to Britain, while the Taliban victory in Afghanistan has given a “morale boost” to extremists around the world.

On China, Mr Moore said the activities of his intelligence agencies include targeting individuals working in the government or industries they are interested in as well as monitoring and attempting to “undue influence” on the Chinese diaspora. .

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“Tectonic plates are changing as China’s power, and its desire to assert it, is growing,” he said.

“Chinese intelligence services are highly competent and continue to conduct large-scale espionage operations against the UK and our allies.

“We are concerned by the Chinese government’s attempt to distort public discourse and political decision-making around the world.”

Moore said Beijing’s growing military might and its desire to secure its long-standing claim to the Taiwan issue, if necessary, pose “a serious challenge to global stability and peace”.

Adopting a world affected by the rise of China is the biggest priority for MI6

Richard Moore

“Beijing believes in its own propaganda about Western weaknesses and underestimates Washington’s resolve. The risk of misassessing China through overconfidence is real,” he said.

He added that “surveillance state” technologies that China developed to suppress its own people, such as the minority Uyghur population, were being made available to other authoritarian regimes.

“Worryingly, these techniques of control and surveillance are increasingly being exported by China to other governments: expanding the web of authoritarian control around the planet,” he said.

“Adoption to a world affected by the rise of China is a top priority for MI6. We need to be able to operate as a covert intelligence agency within the worldwide surveillance web.”

No country in Europe or outside should be tempted to think that unsubstantiated concessions to Russia bring better treatment

Richard Moore

On Russia, Mr Moore said it was necessary for Western countries to stand up to the “full spectrum” of threats from Moscow – from state-sanctioned attacks, such as the Salisbury poisoning, to using political proxies to undermine stability. For. Balkans.

“No country in Europe or outside should be misled into thinking that unsubstantiated concessions to Russia lead to better behaviour,” he said.

“There is no doubt that Moscow should extend support to our allies for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders, including Crimea.”

On Afghanistan, Mr Moore said the priority was to prevent the country from being re-used as a base for major international terrorist attacks by groups such as al Qaeda, now that it was back under Taliban control.

“As an intelligence community we will now do this ‘from the outside’: working from the outside to identify and intercept any threat from al Qaeda,” he said.

“This is an extremely difficult task, and will largely depend on regional partnerships as well as coordination with our allies.”

At the same time, he said MI6 was “engaged” with the Taliban and was testing their willingness to cooperate and to honor their promises not to allow Al Qaeda to rebuild external operational capability.


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