China says foreign consulting agency head spied for Britain

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China’s spy agency said Monday the head of a foreign consultancy had been found to be spying for Britain’s MI6 intelligence service.

The Ministry of State Security said in a WeChat post that Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service — also known as MI6 — used a foreign national with the surname Huang to establish an “intelligence cooperation relationship”.

Huang, who headed a foreign consulting agency, “entered China several times under instructions to use their public profile as a cover to collect China-related intelligence for Britain… and seek other personnel whom MI6 could turn”, the MSS said.

Huang allegedly passed 17 pieces of intelligence, including confidential state secrets, to MI6 before he was identified, according to the MSS.

The ministry also claimed he had received “professional intelligence training” in Britain and had used “specialist spying equipment” to send communications.

The MSS said an investigation had “promptly discovered criminal evidence that Huang was engaged in espionage activities, and took criminal coercive measures in accordance with the law”.

The statement did not provide further details of Huang’s identity or employer, or describe their current condition or whereabouts.

Britain’s embassy in Beijing directed an AFP request to comment to the Foreign Office in London, which did not immediately respond.

 Trading allegations 

China and Britain have traded barbs in recent months over allegations of perceived espionage and its resulting impact on national security.

Britain’s government has warned that Chinese spies are increasingly targeting officials, allegations that Beijing has denied.

A researcher at the British parliament was arrested last year under the Official Secrets Act and subsequently denied spying for Beijing.

China has publicised several other alleged spying cases in recent months.

In May, authorities sentenced 78-year-old American citizen John Shing-wan Leung to life in prison for espionage, though Beijing has not provided substantial details of his case.

And in October, the MSS published the story of another alleged spy, surnamed Hou, who was accused of sending several secret and classified documents to the U.S..

China last year also conducted raids on a string of big-name consulting, research and due diligence firms.

Last May, China said it had raided the offices of U.S. consultancy firm Capvision in order to safeguard its “national security and development interests”.

Beijing also questioned staff at the Shanghai branch of another American consultancy, Bain, in April.

And authorities detained workers and shuttered a Beijing office belonging to U.S.-based due diligence firm Mintz Group in March.

The U.S. government and its chambers of commerce warned that the raids damage investor confidence and the operations of foreign businesses in China.

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