MI5 warning about influence efforts of British-Chinese lawyer marks changed tone

Published on: 15/01/2022 – 17:23

He joined Britain’s political elite – including former prime ministers Theresa May and David Cameron, former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and former London mayor Ken Livingstone. But Christine Lee has not acted since Thursday, when the intelligence agency MI5 issued a stern warning criticizing a British-Chinese lawyer for taking part in politics on behalf of Beijing and the China Communist Party.

In a warning to all British legislators, MI5 accused Lee, 58, of acting in secret and in compliance with United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, one of Beijing’s foreign-language media organizations, in support of political parties, MPs and political activists in the UK.

The missing warning “shows that security agencies are very concerned about what China is doing in this country, according to traditional intelligence, which is not the case, as well as interfering with modern persuasion,” Charles said. Parton, a colleague at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, told reporters Financial Times.

MI5 says Lee, a long-time London resident, is skeptical that he wants to buy the benefit of well-known councilors, right and left politically.

Demonstrating his interest in Labor Party lawmakers, he paid more than £ 580,000 (€ 694,000) to Barry Gardiner through his law firm between 2015 and 2020. Gardiner told Sky News. In her remarks, she said that “for several years she has been in contact with our Christine Lee security agencies” and added that the agencies are well aware of her contributions to her office.

These messages raise questions about some of the MP’s responsibilities, especially his support Electricity project at Hinkley Point 2016 others are sponsored by China. He is one of the few politicians on the left to do this.

Lee also donated £ 5,000 to Edward Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

“I know it will affect me a lot […] that a person who has deliberately intervened in politics on behalf of the China Communist Party is targeting councilors, “Priti Patel, UK secretary of state, wrote on Twitter.

China was quick to deny the allegations. “We have no need and we do not want to ‘buy influence’ in the foreign parliament. We strongly condemn the deception of the Chinese people in the UK,” the Chinese Embassy in London said in a statement.

Legal adviser at China’s embassy

Following the story, British tabloid reporters disrupted Lee’s past. She arrived in Northern Ireland in the late 1970’s at the age of 12 and eventually gave birth to two children by a British lawyer. In 2019, he shook hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting of the China Overseas Friendship Association.

One book in particular helped British journalists in their research: “The Hidden Hand: Revealing How the Chinese Communist Party Changes the World”, a 2020 review of China’s efforts to attract public debate in the West, Lee said.

Authors Clive Hamilton and Mark Ohlberg also point out that, in addition to assisting Chinese refugees in the UK, Lee has also been a senior legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London, “a role that clearly demonstrates the importance of this case. Another “, the authors said.

Other Lee projects included design support All Party Parliamentary China Group, a group of councilors interested in issues related to China. The group was dissolved in 2021 after more than 20 years.

Lee also worked to create at least 16 companies and corporations, many of them involved in promoting Sino-British relations. In 2006 he founded the British China Project, one of the largest organizations promoting the interests of the Chinese people in the United Kingdom, and received an award from Theresa May in 2019.

Former Prime Minister praised Lee’s work and wished him well in “[furthering] the inclusion and participation of the British-Chinese people in UK politics “.

The MI5 warning about Christine Lee shows a dramatic change in tone in recent years on the British approach to China.

“So far, the MI5 has been very careful when it comes to China,” Guardian security and safety editor Dan Sabbagh said in a statement. story published Thursday.

In previous years, British spies would not have expressed their suspicions in this way, says Sabbagh. More than six years ago, when Chinese President Xi Jinping was invited to the UK on a state visit, London reaffirmed his relationship with Beijing. David Cameron, the then prime minister, drank beer and Xi in London pubs.

For Sabbagh, relations changed in November 2021 when Britain’s MI6 spy chief Richard Moore announced that China had become “our great leader”. search for Beijing allies.

The authors of the “Hidden Hand” have also said that the UK has passed “without a return” – that the Chinese Communist Party has already managed to establish a major faction of influence among the British elite.

This article is translated from first in French.

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