China’s top spy agency says it exposes British espionage case

BEIJING (Reuters) -China said its security agencies found another incident of spying in which the British Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, used a foreigner in China to collect secrets and information.

The case by China highlights the ongoing heated exchanges the countries have traded over accusations of perceived spying that threatens their respective national securities.

China’s Ministry of State Security revealed on its WeChat social media account on Monday that a foreigner, only identified by surname Huang, was in charge of an overseas consulting agency, and in 2015, MI6 established an “intelligence cooperative relationship” with the person.

After that, M16 instructed Huang to enter China several times, and instructed him to use his public identity as a cover to collect China-related intelligence for British spying, the statement said.

MI6 also conducted professional intelligence training for Huang in Britain and other places, and provided special espionage equipment for intelligence cross-linking, China’s government said.

“After careful investigation, the state security organs promptly discovered evidence of Huang’s involvement in espionage activities, and took criminal coercive measures against him,” the government said.

The consulting agency was not disclosed by the Chinese government. The British Foreign Office declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the British government has said Chinese spies are targeting its officials in sensitive positions in politics, defence and business as part of an increasingly sophisticated operation to gain access to secrets.

Recently, a researcher in Britain’s parliament denied he was a Chinese spy.

China repeatedly condemned the assertions with a foreign ministry spokesperson saying they were “entirely groundless.”

“We urge the UK to stop spreading disinformation and stop political manipulation and malicious slander against China,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning when queried at a press briefing.

China has been cracking down on perceived threats to its national security, revealing several cases of spying that it uncovered in recent years.

The government has been warning its citizens in the country and abroad of the dangers of getting caught up in espionage activities. It has been encouraging people to join counter-espionage work that includes creating channels to report suspicious activity.

China has also unleashed a sweeping crackdown on foreign consultancy and due diligence firms over threats of revealing state secrets that has unnerved foreign companies operating in the country.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr; Editing by Michael Perry and Ed Osmond)