UK media reported last week that Britain’s domestic security service MI5 issued an extraordinary warning to parliament, naming Christine Lee, a well-known lawyer in London’s Chinese community, as an agent working covertly for the Chinese government. According to the MI5, Lee attempted to influence several MPs from the Labour, Lib Dems, and Conservative parties through donations or ‘donations in kind.’ According to a report in The Spectator:
January 14, 2022 The biggest surprise in Thursday’s security warning about a Chinese agent seeking to influence British politicians is that it came as a surprise at all. The Chinese Communist Party operates a vast and growing influence operation in Britain, which has pretty much been allowed free rein. The warning came from MI5 in the form of an ‘interference alert’ sent to House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsey Hoyle, which he then passed on to MPs. It warned that Christine Lee, a lawyer, was ‘knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist party.’ Lee was accused of attempting to influence several MPs from the Labour, Lib Dems and Conservative parties through donations or ‘donations in kind’. Among them was Labour MP Barry Gardiner, whose office received over £400,000 in donations. Lee’s son was employed as a diary manager for Gardiner, who generally took a pro-Beijing line while he was in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. In a statement on Thursday, the Brent North MP said the donations were fully declared, and he had been ‘liaising with our security services for a number of years about Christine Lee’. He said he made MI5 fully aware ‘of her engagement with my office and the donations she made to fund researchers in my office in the past’. Lee also made a £5,000 donation to the local party association of Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey while he was energy secretary in the coalition government. A spokesman for the party said Sir Ed was ‘shocked by these revelations’ Lee even received a ‘Points of Light’ award from Theresa May when she was prime minister. In a personal message, May praised Lee for ‘promoting engagement, understanding, and cooperation between the Chinese and British communities in the UK.
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The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has extensively covered Chinese influence operations in the UK, including attempts to influence political elites in the country. In August, we published an exclusive investigation uncovering China’s attempts to create pro-China lobby groups in Europe, identifying China’s main vehicle for elite capture in the UK:
August 29, 2021 China’s main vehicle for elite capture in the UK is the 48 Group Club, a business network “promoting positive Sino-British relations” founded in the 1950s that today gathers the who’s who of the British power elite — including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, members of the House of Lords and senior media and business executives — and pairs them with senior Chinese Communist Party operatives, including several former Chinese ambassadors, a former vice president, and a former vice-minister. The group’s website publishes articles from Chinese state-led media outlets such as Xinhua and China Daily Global, and its members openly advocate for Chinese policy objectives.
Read the full investigation here.