China's ‘whole state assault’ on UK: Headhunting Britons, government says
The UK government said measures were in place to stop officials from being recruited.
Chinese spies are targeting British officials in sensitive positions as part of an increasingly sophisticated spying operation to gain access to secrets and their specialised knowledge, the British government said responding to a parliamentary report in July which found the government's approach to the threat posed by China was inadequate. The UK government said measures were in place to stop officials from being recruited, including regular vetting and software to help them identify fake profiles on social media.
"The government recognises that Chinese recruitment schemes have tried to headhunt British and allied nationals in key positions and with sensitive knowledge and experience," the government said amid growing anxiety about Chinese activity in Britain which exacerbated since it was revealed that a parliamentary researcher was arrested in March on suspicion of spying for China.
The arrest of the young researcher led to calls by British members of parliament for a tougher stance on China while the Chinese foreign ministry called the spying claims "entirely groundless". The researcher has denied being a spy.
In its highly critical parliamentary report, the Intelligence and Security Committee said Beijing had successfully penetrated every sector of the British economy. China is involved in a "whole state" assault on Britain and the government's approach has been “completely inadequate”, the ISC concluded after a four-year inquiry.
Chinese spying efforts in Britain were once focused on the hacking and stealing of intellectual property, lawmakers said.