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China charges that the British Secret Service is recruiting its people as spies.

Photo-Reuters

In Beijing, a contentious accusation has surfaced, implicating Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, in the recruitment of a couple employed within China's central government to spy on behalf of the UK. The Ministry of State Security, in an announcement on its official WeChat platform, detailed the purported scheme, alleging that MI6 operatives successfully persuaded a man named Wang, who occupied a significant position in the central state apparatus, and his wife, identified as Zhou, to defect.

According to the Ministry's statement, the recruitment effort by British intelligence agents began several years ago, during Wang's enrollment in a study program in the UK in 2015. MI6 agents allegedly initiated a strategy of cultivating Wang's trust, arranging social engagements and excursions to discern his vulnerabilities, interests, and motivations. Subsequently, upon identifying Wang's financial aspirations, the operatives purportedly offered him lucrative consulting opportunities that entailed gathering sensitive information pertaining to China's central state agencies.

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The Ministry of State Security asserted that MI6 operatives eventually disclosed their true identities to Wang, instructing him to return to China and leverage his influence to coerce his spouse, Zhou, into participating in the espionage activities. While the specifics regarding Wang and Zhou's current occupations, the nature of the intelligence they purportedly provided, and their current whereabouts remain undisclosed, the Chinese authorities affirmed that they have collected substantial evidence and have undertaken decisive measures against Wang.

Despite the gravity of the allegations, the British Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, responsible for handling MI6-related inquiries, have yet to provide a formal response. This development unfolds against a backdrop of escalating tensions between China and Western powers, characterized by reciprocal accusations of espionage. Recent months have witnessed a rare disclosure of individual cases, shedding light on the clandestine activities conducted by both sides.

Notably, last month, British authorities reported the mysterious death of Matthew Trickett, who had been charged with aiding Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region under Chinese governance, in gathering intelligence within the UK. Meanwhile, in April, German authorities detained four individuals suspected of spying for China, coinciding with British law enforcement charging two men with transmitting sensitive information to Beijing between 2021 and the preceding year.

As China and Western nations continue to navigate strained diplomatic relations amid accusations of espionage, the latest allegation against MI6 underscores the persistent complexities and heightened sensitivities surrounding intelligence operations and international security dynamics.

June 3, 2024 10:45 a.m. 366

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