MI6 chief warns of security threat from China ‘miscalculation’

China’s arrogance and belief in its own anti-Western propaganda has put Beijing at risk of “miscalculations” that could threaten international security, the head of Britain’s secret intelligence service has warned.

Richard Moore said adapting to a world dominated by China’s emergence was now “the top priority” for his spy agency, also known as MI6, in his first public speech since taking over the role a year ago.

“The Chinese intelligence services are extremely skilled and continue to carry out large-scale espionage operations against Britain and our allies,” Moore, also known by the code name “C”, told an audience in London on Tuesday. Beijing’s growing military strength and the [Chinese Communist] the party’s desire to resolve the Taiwan issue, by force if necessary, also poses a serious challenge to global stability and peace. “

The comments mark a striking change from the British government former hesitation in relation to the threat from China. The integrated review of defense and security policy, published earlier this year, underscored a “slope” in defense priorities against Asia, but also stressed that Britain would seek “deeper trade relations and more Chinese investment”.

However, on Tuesday, Moore accused Beijing of trying to “distort public discourse and political decision-making” and suggested that China was exporting technology that would enable a “network of authoritarian control” around the world.

“The Chinese Communist Party leadership is increasingly in favor of courageous and decisive action, especially for national security reasons,” he said. “Beijing believes in its own propaganda about Western fragility and underestimates Washington’s determination. The risk of Chinese miscalculation due to arrogance is real.”

While the spy chief did not link his miscalculation comments directly to Taiwan, Western defense and security leaders are increasingly concerned about Xi Jinping’s declared willingness to “reunite” the island – which China’s president considers part of his country’s sovereign territory – with the mainland during his time. . management.

Moore also warned of Beijing’s attempts to discontinue what he called “debt and data traps” for other countries, which he said could increase their vulnerability to political coercion. Sri Lanka was forced to hand over its strategic port of Hambanota to China in 2017, after being unable to repay debts from Chinese state-controlled entities used to fund port development.

In an interview just before the speech, the spy chief expressed concern that Beijing was seeking to “harvest data from around the world” through surveillance technologies. “If you allow another country to access really critical data about your community, then over time it will erode your sovereignty, you will no longer have control over that data,” Moore told the BBC. “It’s something in the UK we are very aware of and we have taken various measures to defend ourselves against.”

He argued in the speech that MI6 would have to give up some of its traditional secrecy and seek the help of technology companies in order to compete with developments in artificial intelligence and quantum computers already being exploited by opponents.

In a direct warning to Moscow, he said there should be no doubt about our allies’ support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. His comments echoed those of NATO foreign ministers, including Britain’s Liz Truss, who attended a summit in Latvia to discuss the gathering of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.

Regarding the prospects for international terrorism, he said the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan had provided a “moral boost” to militants. “I do not want to soften it: the threat we face is likely to grow now that we have left Afghanistan.”

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