Politicians must 'remain vigilant' after suspected Chinese agent targets MPs
POLITICIANS must ‘remain vigilant’ to foreign agents and spies trying to influence their views, an MP has warned.
Havant MP issued the warning following news that MPs in Westminster were targeted by a suspected Chinese agent.
The revelation was made by MI5, which issued a warning to MPs that Christine Lee, a prominent London-based solicitor, had been engaged in ‘political interference activities’ on behalf of China’s ruling communist regime.
The claims were angrily dismissed by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman who accused the UK government of being ‘too obsessed with James Bond 007 movies’.
But the situation was branded as ‘deeply concerning’ by officials in Downing Street, with a spokesman insisting the issue was being taken seriously.
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Mr Mak said the revelation was both unusual and worrying and said it was more important than ever that politicians remained ‘vigilant’ of being targeted by foreign agents.
Speaking to The News, the Tory MP said: ‘Domestic issues have completely dominated the news agenda, Covid and the cost of living. There’s a lot of foreign policy and defence issues.
‘Foreign agents, whether from Russia or other adversary states are still operating. This is a timely reminder we have to be vigilant.’
It’s understood that the suspected agent had targeted MP’s from Labour and the Liberal Democrat parties, in a bid to make British policy more favourable towards China.
Mr Mak – who was Britain’s first MP of Chinese heritage to be elected to parliament – said neither himself nor his Tory colleagues had been targeted.
A Downing Street spokesman added: ‘It will be deeply concerning that an individual who is knowingly engaged in the interference activities of the Chinese Communist Party targeted parliamentarians.
‘Safeguarding our democracy will always be an absolute priority for this government.
‘We have robust systems in place but we will always ensure security services and law enforcement have the powers they need to tackle future threats.’ Hampshire-based security minister, Damian Hinds said the security services have been aware of Lee’s activities – including channelling funds to British politicians in an attempt to secure influence – for ‘some time’.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin dismissed the claims, accusing the UK government of making ‘groundless allegations and hyping the China threat’ to serve its own purposes.
‘It is highly irresponsible to make sensational remarks based on hearsay evidence and certain individuals’ conjecture,’ he said.
Among those to accept donations from Lee is the senior Labour MP Barry Gardiner, who received more than £500,000 over six years to cover staffing costs in his office as well as employing her son as his diary manager.
Lee also received an award from Theresa May when she was prime minister, for her work on a project promoting good relations between the Chinese and British communities in the UK, and was a VIP guest when David Cameron hosted President Xi Jinping in London.