According to America’s CIA, UK intelligence agency MI6 is deeply concerned about China’s defenses.
In his first public address and live interview, MI6 chief Richard Moore said that China is the “only top priority” of British intelligence, with its threat level presumably higher than security concerns from Russia, Iran and foreign terrorism.
The announcement came just about a month after reports that Biden government officials were having difficulty obtaining information about the inner circle of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Secret Intelligence Service, commonly referred to as MI6, is the UK’s external intelligence agency.
Problems of the CIA with China
It’s no secret that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is having a hard time getting information from China. The EurAsian Times had previously reported how Beijing pursued, detained and / or killed several US assets operating in the communist country, and then systematically destroyed Washingtonâs intelligence network.
In addition, China has recently stepped up its espionage attempts. Not only have there been several cases of cyberattacks on US databases, but the Chinese are also involved in successful honey-catching operations.
Technological and economic advances, particularly in the past decade, have made more sophisticated tools and spies available to him.
The result was twofold: Washington has little to no insight into Xi’s decision-making on issues such as Taiwan, and the US has been put on the defensive in this espionage war because China is receiving a significant amount of sensitive information.
After the US, it is the UK that has raised concerns about China’s counter-espionage capabilities.
UK suspicious of Chinese technology?
On the subject of Chinese intelligence, Moore said on November 30th that Beijing was rapidly expanding its technical capabilities, including in the field of artificial intelligence. He cited as an example that China was a surveillance state targeting the Uighur ethnic minority in the Xinjiang region.
The Chinese government not only imprisoned nearly a million people there, but is also believed to have committed extensive human rights violations in the region in the course of repressive measures.
“Worryingly, these control and surveillance technologies are increasingly being exported from China to other governments, expanding the web of authoritarian control around the planet,” he added.
Moore went on to claim that China was conducting “large-scale espionage operations against Britain” and its allies. “Adapting to a world affected by the rise of China has the highest priority for MI6,” emphasized the spy chief again.
This is in line with reports from British spies that surfaced this July. They warned that both China and Russia were trying to steal commercially sensitive data and intellectual property. The two countries were accused of being involved in disseminating misinformation and meddling in domestic politics.
There had been talks beforehand about how Beijing is addressing intelligence operations. For example, Matthew Henderson, a former British diplomat in Beijing, had told Politico that the vast majority of information-gathering carried out by China in the UK is done “in the open” in institutions such as research and development.
In the face of such submissions identifying the threat posed by Chinese intelligence and the need to address it, the UK has taken certain measures.
The new strategy of MI6
Moore, the only publicly identified member of MI6, issued the rare public briefing on the intelligence agency’s priorities, as the rapid pace of technology development around the world has now created a situation of “staying secret, [the MI6 is] must be more open. “
He pointed out that the UK needs to develop the ability to compete in cyberspace and protect itself if it is to keep up. The action proposed and the need is to get the intelligence community to take a break from keeping everything in-house to work with private tech companies better equipped to navigate the advancing global tech scene.
In addition, Moore revealed that MI6’s allocation of resources to China this year has surpassed that of the previous top priority – fighting terrorism.
MI5 Director General Ken McCallum had already announced in July about the realignment of the resources of his agency on Russia and China and the associated state threats. “We aim to double the amount of MI5 resources used for government threat activities,” he said.
Moore said Britain is “deepening” [its] Understanding of China across the UK intelligence community and expanding the options available to the government in dealing with the systemic challenges it poses. “
This implies an attempt to gain insight into what President Xi Jinping and his close circle think.
But it’s not just limited to that, MI6 officers and the agents they lead also want to prepare to operate undetected at a time when technology has made it much easier to track down people and keep communications kept secret.
A new law should also be proposed in May requiring UK nationals working overseas to register their activities or risk criminal conviction. The register should aim to repel threats from authoritarian states.