A purported Chinese Communist Party spy attempting to enter a non-public briefing at the UK House of Commons on the plight of two Hong Kong dissidents was thwarted, the Daily Mail claims in an exclusive July 11 article.
Daily Mail says that a Chinese man claiming he was a tourist attempted to enter a meeting that was “in a committee room deep within the high-security Houses of Parliament.”
When authorities questioned the individual, he “gave a name not on the approved list and refused to say who he was representing,” the Mail stated.
The man “claimed he had been directed to the secluded committee room as part of an official tour” and “left after a brief stand-off.”
This type of tactic is a boilerplate one employed by the Party to gather intelligence and information on attendees of events sensitive to the regime’s crimes, such as the 24-year persecution of Falun Gong and the genocide of Uyghur Muslims.
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Conservative MP Bob Seely told reporters on the attempt, “If this was a Chinese Communist Party spy then it is yet another example of this regime’s cack-handed malign incompetence.”
Seely added, “It would be completely inappropriate for Beijing to send an operative to intimidate or record people inside a private parliamentary event.”
The meeting involved two Hong Kong dissidents involved in the historic 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests, Christopher Mung and Finn Lau, who are among a group of eight individuals ordered to return to Hong Kong and had a 1 million HKD ($128,000 USD~) bounty placed on their heads in early July, AFP reported.
“They were accused of crimes including subversion and colluding with foreign forces,” the article stated, noting all eight individuals left Hong Kong following the imposition of the “National Security Law” in June 2020.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee told the media during a weekly briefing that the eight will be “pursued for life.”
“The only way to end their destiny of being an abscondee who will be pursued for life is to surrender,” Lee said.
Daily Mail said that although the House of Commons meeting was closed-door, it nonetheless invited as many as 200 MPs, journalists, and “democracy campaigners” to attend the event.
The meeting “was held in committee room 19, located on the top floor, far from the areas usually visited by tourists. Some Hong Kongers covered their faces during the event, fearing for their safety,” the outlet said.
The CCP motif of sending low-level spies as thinly-veiled tourists has garnered more attention in 2023.
In May, USA Today reported that the Party had been caught using the tactic in Alaska in attempts to breach the security of U.S. military bases.
The outlet paraphrased “U.S. officials” as saying that “Chinese citizens posing as tourists but suspected of being spies” have routinely attempted to access restricted facilities.
Soldiers at Fort Wainwright told USA Today that “a vehicle with Chinese citizens blew past a security checkpoint,” and when it was stopped and searched, a drone was discovered inside.
“The occupants claimed they were tourists who had gotten lost,” the article said.
USA Today added, “Details about the incidents remain mostly classified.”
A similar tactic was used as far back as December of 2019 when the world was on the cusp of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the impact of government measures in response when a slew of Chinese “tourists” hit then-President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and a U.S. Navy base in Key West, CNBC reported.
In a July 6 blog post on a Parliamentary website, MP Layla Moran commented on the case of Mung, Lau, and others: “They sought refuge in the UK because they thought they would be safe. Chillingly, Beijing is trying to do all it can to interfere in what should be their safe haven.”
The MP’s comments appear to be a reference to a July 6 PA News Agency wire release where Mung and Lau demanded a meeting with the UK Foreign Secretary following the saber rattling from John Lee.
Lau was paraphrased as saying “he did not feel safe because of the bounty and the ‘threats’ from the Chinese Communist Party.”
“The risk of abduction and physical harassment has escalated, skyrocketed in the last few days,” Lau was directly quoted as adding.
Moran further stated in her post, “The Government have rightly said that they will not tolerate this intimidation, but I am afraid their words ring rather hollow.”
A member of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, Mark Sabah, told Daily Mail, “CCP operatives regularly infiltrate meetings and gatherings right across the UK, especially events organised by people critical of the Beijing regime.”
Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith was quoted as saying during the meeting, “The CCP is a deeply unreliable and nasty organisation doing its level best to undermine security and free speech here in the UK.”
“We need to be sure that anyone acting suspiciously or refusing to identify themselves in Parliament is removed immediately,” Smith added.