UK Foreign Office summons China ambassador over spying allegations News
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UK Foreign Office summons China ambassador over spying allegations

The UK Foreign Office summoned the Chinese ambassador in response to spying allegations on Tuesday. A statement from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) also confirmed that three individuals have been charged with offences under the National Security Act as part of an investigation led by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism branch. The charges relate to activity in Hong Kong, where China is operating as a special administrative region.

The statement from the Foreign Office said:

The FCDO was unequivocal in setting out that the recent pattern of behaviour directed by China against the UK including cyberattacks, reports of espionage links and the issuing of bounties is not acceptable.

In response to the meeting with Foreign Office officials, the Chinese embassy released a press statement condemning “the UK’s wrongful behaviour, including its unwarranted accusation” against the Hong Kong government. The Embassy accused the UK government of a smear campaign against China, saying:

All those accusations are groundless and slanderous. The British side has also wantonly harassed, arrested and detained Chinese citizens in the UK under the pretext of judicial and national security. This constitutes a grave provocation against China and severely contravenes the basic norms governing international relations. It is totally unacceptable.

The charges come at a tense time for Anglo-China relations. Last week, UK Defence Secretary confirmed that a cybersecurity incident had taken place involving the UK Armed Forces payment network, stating that Chinese state involvement was suspected. In March, two other individuals were charged with espionage on behalf of China.

In addition to allegations of spying against the Chinese government, the new National Security Act has been utilised to respond to Russian espionage. Last week, the UK Home Secretary announced a wave of sanctions including the expulsion of a Russian diplomat over accusations of Russian intelligence gathering operations in the UK.