In a significant development, in a report The Mail said, loyal members of the Chinese Communist Party have infiltrated some of the UK’s leading companies, as well as universities and the British consulates.
The Mail’s report is based on a leaked database which contains 1.95 million registered party members of the Chinese Communist Party and reveals how Beijing’s malign influence now stretches into every nook and corner of British industry including banking companies, defence firms, and pharmaceutical companies.
What is worrisome is that many of these people, who have sworn a solemn oath to ‘guard Party secrets, be loyal to the Party, work hard, fight for communism throughout my life…and never betray the Party’ have secured jobs in British consulates. Among them is a senior official at the British Consulate in Shanghai, headquarters to intelligence officers from the UK security services.
Rarely will you find a smoking gun with direct evidence to support allegations of spying since these spies are trained to cover their tracks and according to experts, it defies credulity that many are not involved in military and corporate espionage.
In an article in The Mail on Sunday, former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said, “This investigation proves that members of the Chinese Communist Party are now spread around the globe, with members working for some of the world’s most important multinational corporations, academic institutions and our own diplomatic services. The Government must now move to expel and remove any members of the Communist Party from our Consuls throughout China. They can either serve the UK or the Chinese Communist Party. They cannot do both.”
According to a senior Whitehall intelligence source, the revelations have raised security questions.
The database was originally leaked on Telegram, and passed in September by a Chinese dissident to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which comprises more than 150 legislators around the world who are concerned by the influence and activities of the Chinese government.
Dating back to 2016, the database lists the names of party members in China’s financial hub, Shanghai.
After due authentication with data security analysts Internet 2.0, the database was passed by IPAC to four media houses around the globe, including The Mail on Sunday.
A detailed analysis of the database reveals
- A Communist Party Member who studied at St Andrews University worked at various consulates in Shanghai including that of the UK.
- Communist Party Members who swore the oath to assist the party attended British universities where they were involved in sensitive areas of research including advanced chemistry and aerospace engineering.
- More than 600 Communist Party worked at across 19 branches of HSBC and Standard Chartered in 2016. Both have drawn criticism for their response to Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong.
- 123 Communist Party Members work at pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca, which have been at the forefront against the fight against the Coronavirus-induced COVID-19 disease which emerged from Wuhan, China.
- Communist Party Members work in critical defense companies including Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Boeing.
The database contains the names of members, dates of birth, Chinese ethnicity and in some cases addresses and even telephone numbers.
According to security sources, a consular official identified from the leaked database works close to a team of MI6 officers who operate under diplomatic cover. The consular official is registered with a communist party branch within a company called the The Shanghai Foreign Agency Service Corporation, a Chinese state-owned employment agency.
The Shanghai Foreign Agency Service Corporation employs around 2,000 people and according to its website it ‘provides comprehensive and high-quality services to more than 100 foreign organisations in Shanghai including foreign consulates, foreign news media, and foreign schools’.
According to analysis of the database, at least 249 Communist Party members were registered with the agency in 2016, with many living and working in the UK. They include a research fellow in aerospace engineering at a leading university who also works for a private company.
The British government has designated aerospace engineering as among the seven most militarily sensitive university subjects.
Incidentally, students who want to study this subject who come from countries other than the EU or from the ‘Five Eyes’ network of Britain, – the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – are required to have an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. During this process, they are asked to declare any state-linked funding.
In recent years, security officials from the United States have increasingly warned of Chinese espionage threats emanating from campuses.
In September, 14 Chinese nationals have been charged with alleged spying offences in the United States. Last week, the Trump administration changed visa rules such that members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families only stay or get travel documents for a month.
Last week, John Ratcliffe, the US Director of National Security, warned that China poses the ‘greatest threat to democracy and freedom’ since the Second World War and was striving to dominate ‘the planet economically, militarily and technologically’.
In September, Australia revoked the visas of two professors from China following suspicions that they were involved in espionage; one of the professors appear on the leaked membership list.
According to the list, members of the Chinese Communist Party are also working at Airbus as well as in French defense contractor Thales.
Reacting to the findings, former Foreign Office diplomat and China expert Matthew Henderson opined, “This is yet further proof of how China has inveigled its way into the British establishment. We are dancing with rabid wolves, intent on driving a wedge between Britain and America, overthrowing democracy and outstripping the West.”
“This is a deeply disturbing illustration of China’s spread across the globe which we can’t look away from and must tackle head on,” said Sam Armstrong, from the Henry Jackson Society foreign policy think-tank.
According to a former CIA and White House intelligence analyst who specialises in East Asia affairs, “This is what the Chinese Communist Party is and you can’t trust them. They’re always looking for opportunities where they can take advantage of relationships, friendships, whatever, to further the interests of the Communist Party.”