UNITED KINGDOM: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed deep concerns regarding potential Chinese interference in the United Kingdom’s parliamentary democracy during a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the G20 summit.
The meeting came in the wake of the detention of a British parliamentary researcher suspected of espionage for China in Oxfordshire.
The encounter between the two leaders took place on the sidelines of the G20 conference in India. The detained researcher, a woman in her twenties, was arrested under the Official Secrets Act by officers from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Command in Edinburgh.
Sunak has connections to Conservative MPs Tom Tugendhat and Alicia Kearns and has been linked to a report detailing an alleged spying operation.
The report suggests that the individual possesses a parliamentary pass and has previously lived and worked in China.
Despite being aware of the report, Alicia Kearns has chosen not to comment on the matter, and Tom Tugendhat has had no interactions with the detained researcher since his appointment. A second suspect was detained by Met officers in Oxfordshire.
On March 13, arrests were made in connection with a report highlighting Beijing’s “prolific and aggressive” pursuit of the UK, as revealed by the Intelligence and Security Committee, responsible for overseeing espionage agencies for the British Parliament. Senior members of the Conservative Party have criticized Sunak for his efforts to foster relationships with China.
The UK government has expressed its intention to maintain a pragmatic relationship with China in addressing global challenges like climate change, as emphasized by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk reiterated the Prime Minister’s clear stance on China as an epoch-defining threat and called for lessons to be learned from the situation. He also assured that law enforcement and other relevant agencies would treat the issue with utmost seriousness.
Chalk voiced concerns about the security of the parliamentary pass system, stating that while the system is rigorously enforced, the ongoing investigation will serve as an opportunity to learn and improve its effectiveness. He expressed confidence that authorities will draw valuable insights from the investigation.