British intelligence agencies push for reassessment of UK relationship with China

The UK domestic and foreign intelligence services are urging the government to reconsider their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party - they have found support in parliament

MI6 headquarters on the bank of the Thames
MI6 headquarters on the bank of the Thames
(Avalon / Getty Images)
Updated: April 15, 2020 - 8:38am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The intelligence community in Britain is moving toward a reassessment of its relationship with China, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Similarly to American intelligence services, British spy agencies briefed members of parliament on China’s effort to significantly underreport their coronavirus case numbers and death toll.

MI6 and MI5 (the foreign and domestic intelligence services, respectively) are contemplating putting an end to the Chinese takeovers of powerful tech companies in the UK. The government is also reportedly mulling over whether to limit the access of Chinese students to British universities.

China skeptics in the UK government were forced to soften their rhetoric around the Chinese Communist Party, as China delivered 300 well needed ventilators to Great Britain last month.

However, foreign policy specialists continue to warn that Beijing sees itself as “in a long-term competition with the west.”

In February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an integrated review of foreign policy and defense, which will include England’s relationship with China. The report is now expected to experience delays, due to the pandemic.

Last month, the UK parliament voted to allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to supply 5G technology to Great Britain.

A group of 15 Tory MPs have since written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to rethink the UK’s wider relationship with China, once the pandemic is in retreat. The letter says that the government has “failed to take a strategic view of Britain’s long-term economic, technical and security needs."

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