London: Amid rising concerns over China’s covert intelligence gathering and surveillance activities around the world, it has been reported that Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) loyal members have been working in British consulates, universities and some of the leading UK companies.
An extraordinary leaked database of 1.95 million registered CCP members reveals how Beijing’s “malign influence” now stretches into almost every corner of British life, including defence firms, banks and pharmaceutical giants, Daily Mail reported.
Most alarmingly, some of its members, who swear a solemn oath to ‘guard Party secrets, be loyal to the Party, work hard, fight for communism throughout my life…and never betray the Party’, are understood to have secured jobs in British consulates.
Among them is a senior official at the British Consulate in Shanghai. The official describes their role as supporting ministers and officials on visits to East China.
The database was originally said to be leaked on Telegram, the encrypted instant messaging app. It was then passed in September by a Chinese dissident to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which comprises more than 150 legislators around the world who are concerned by the influence and activities of the Chinese government.
According to the report, a detailed analysis by The Mail on Sunday of the material reveals that pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca – both involved in the development of coronavirus vaccines – employed a total 123 party loyalists.
The analysis also revealed that there were over 600 party members across 19 branches working at the British banks HSBC and Standard Chartered in 2016.
While there is no evidence that anyone on the party membership list has spied for China – and many sign up simply to boost their career prospects – experts say it defies credulity that some are not involved in espionage.
Responding to the findings, an alliance of 30 MPs last night said they would be tabling an urgent question about the issue in the Commons.
China has upped its espionage activities over the last few years. It has even been accused of political interference in Australia.
Recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged universities in the United States to scrutinise China’s assistance and students, warning that Beijing was set on stealing innovation.
The outgoing top US diplomat made the speech during a visit to Georgia, a state with a growing Asian-American community and which next month holds two runoff elections that will determine which party controls the US Senate.
Writing in The Mail on Sunday today, former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “This investigation proves that members of the Chinese Communist Party are now spread around the globe, with members working for some of the world’s most important multinational corporations, academic institutions and our own diplomatic services.”
“The Government must now move to expel and remove any members of the Communist Party from our Consuls throughout China. They can either serve the UK or the Chinese Communist Party. They cannot do both,” Smith further said.
The Foreign Office last night insisted that it has ‘robust procedures in place to keep information secure and to vet staff at our overseas posts’. It is understood they are aware that they employ party members.
However, a senior Whitehall intelligence source said the revelations did raise security questions. “In that station [the official] will be sat one floor away from the MI6 team and could have identified intelligence officers.”