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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

China denies interfering in UK politics after MI5 alert

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China has denied interfering in UK politics after MI5 warned an agent of the country had infiltrated Parliament.

Christine Ching Kui Lee, according to the security service, “established links” for the Chinese Communist Party with current and aspiring MPs.

She then donated to politicians, including Labour MP Barry Gardiner, who received over £420,000 from her.

MI5 was accused by the Chinese Embassy in London of “smearing and intimidating” the UK’s Chinese community.

A spokesman for the embassy said on the embassy’s website, “China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”

“We have no need for and will never seek to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign legislature.” We vehemently oppose the smear and intimidation campaign against the Chinese community in the United Kingdom.”

Ms Lee claimed her involvement in Parliament was to “represent the UK Chinese and increase diversity,” according to the alert.

However, MI5 stated that the activity “had been carried out in covert coordination with the United Front Work Department [of the CCP], with funding provided by foreign nationals based in China and Hong Kong.”

The UFWD is said to be attempting to “cultivate relations” with “influential figures” in order to ensure the CCP’s political landscape in the UK is favourable to the party and to challenge those who raise concerns about the party, including human rights concerns.

Ms Lee had “extensive engagement with individuals across the UK political spectrum,” according to the security service, including the now-disbanded All Party Parliamentary Group called Chinese in Britain.

Ms Lee, according to MI5, “may aspire to establish APPGs [parliamentary groups] to further the CCP’s agenda.”

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a Conservative MP and former party leader, raised the alert in the Commons on Thursday, confirming that the Speaker had emailed it to MPs.

He called it a “grave concern,” demanding that Ms Lee be deported and that the government make a statement to the House.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said it was “deeply concerning” that someone “knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party has targeted parliamentarians.”

She did, however, say that the UK has measures in place to “identify foreign interference.”

Labour MP Barry Gardiner received donations from Christine Ching Kui Lee’s company

At the end of 2014, Mr Gardiner began receiving donations from Ms Lee’s law firm, Christine Lee & Co.

Ms Lee’s son is also said to have volunteered for the Labour MP and later worked for him as his diary manager.

Mr Gardiner, who served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, said he had been “liaising with our security services for a number of years” about her.

Ms Lee had “no say” in who he chose as his researchers, and he claimed that all donations were “properly reported.”

“From my point of view, that money was there to improve the work I was able to do in Parliament, and to improve the work I was able to do for my constituents – it paid for those researchers and it paid for them directly, none of it was for my personal benefit,” Mr Gardiner later told Sky News.

When he was energy secretary, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey received a £5,000 donation, but he said the money was accepted by his local association and it was “the first time he has been given cause to be concerned.”

 

SourceBBC
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