UK spy agency MI5 has issued a warning about a Chinese spy who has infiltrated the parliament with the aim of influencing the politics in the United Kingdom. The alert was made public by former leader of the Conservative Party Ian Duncan Smith.
According to the “Security Service Interference Alert” that was sent to the parliament, the Chinese spy, Christine Ching Kui Lee, is accused of having “knowingly engaged in political interference activities” on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the United Front Work Department (UFWD).
Lee has been arranging donations to politicians and political parties. The alert warned anyone coming into contact with Lee to be “mindful” of her affiliations with Beijing. Lee, 58, owns a law firm that has offices in Birmingham and London.
“We judge that the UFWD is seeking to covertly interfere in UK politics through establishing links with established and aspiring parliamentarians across the political spectrum. The UFWD seeks to cultivate relationships with influential figures in order to ensure the UK political landscape is favorable to the CCP’s agenda and to challenge those that raise concerns about CCP activity, such as human rights,” the MI5 alert said.
Lee has claimed that her involvement with the UK parliament was aimed at representing the UK Chinese population and increasing diversity. The MI5 pointed out that Lee’s work was undertaken in “covert coordination” with the UFWD.
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Most of the funding for her activities was provided by citizens living in China and Hong Kong. Lee has “extensive engagement” with many UK politicians, including an All-Party Parliamentary Group called the Chinese in Britain that is now disbanded.
Among the many recipients of Lee’s donation is Sir Ed Davey, the leader of liberal democrats. When he was the energy secretary, Davey received £5,000 ($6,839) as a donation.
Barry Gardiner of the Labor party received more than £420,000 ($574,488) from Lee over a course of five years, a significant amount considering that Lee has only made over £700,000 ($957,481) in donations.
In an interview with Sky News, Gardner stated that he had informed MI5 of the contributions. The donations were used to fund researchers in his office. “Steps were taken to ensure she had no role in either the appointment or management of those researchers… They are also aware that I have not benefited personally from those donations in any way. She ceased funding any workers in my office in June 2020,” Gardner said.
The Chinese Embassy has strongly denied any involvement in the case, with a spokesperson insisting that Beijing has always adhered to the “principle of non-interference” when it comes to the internal affairs of other nations.
“We have no need and never seek to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign parliament. We firmly oppose the trick of smearing and intimidation against the Chinese community in the UK,” the statement said.
Labor Party called the infiltration an “extremely serious” affair. The party’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper condemned Beijing’s attempt to infiltrate Britain’s democratic process in “the strongest terms.”
Tobias Ellwood, who presently chairs the Commons Defense Committee, stated that such “grey-zone interference” is to be anticipated from China. However, he wants the government to approach the matter with a “sense of urgency.”
Ian Duncan Smith called the incident a “matter of grave concern” and wants Lee to be deported from the country. In a tweet, he criticized the government for not taking quick action against lee.
“How can it be that an agent of a foreign despotic and despicable power engaged in political interference on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party can have nothing done to them, no further action, other than they’re not allowed in @UKParliament?” Smith said.