China says UK spy claims result of watching ‘too many 007 movies’

Published January 15, 2022
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin addresses a press conference on Friday. — Photo via Chinese Foreign Ministry Twitter
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin addresses a press conference on Friday. — Photo via Chinese Foreign Ministry Twitter

BEIJING: China on Friday dismissed a rare public warning by British security services that a suspected Chinese agent was trying to influence lawmakers, saying it was the result of watching “too many 007 movies”.

British authorities said on Thursday that a London-based solicitor “knowingly engaged in political interference activities” inside parliament, citing Britain’s counter-intelligence and domestic spy agency MI5.

Christine Lee had reportedly worked on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party to gain influence through donations, the office of House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said.

China’s foreign ministry denied engaging in “interference activities”, blasting the accusations as “alarmist remarks based on some individuals’ subjective assumptions”.

“Perhaps some individuals have watched too many 007 movies, leading to unnecessary mental associations,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference, referring to the James Bond book and movie franchise.

MI5’s security notice said Lee was acting “on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party” and answered to figures in China and Hong Kong.

Academics and multiple foreign governments have long recognised the United Front as a tool for influencing organisations and politicians abroad.

The opaque party-controlled network covers issues such as minority rights within China to monitoring Chinese communities overseas.

Lee had previously been celebrated as a link between China and Britain and it was unclear what evidence sparked MI5’s public warning — a highly unusual move from the intelligence services.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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