Britain issues malicious and groundless accusations about Chinese cyberattacks

On Monday 25 March 2024, in an obviously coordinated move, the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia expressed concerns over Chinese cyber-hacking, which they claim is being leveraged by the PRC government to gather data and undermine Western democracy. On top of their unproven allegations, these countries announced the introduction of new unilateral sanctions against China.

In Britain, the charges were led by members of the viscerally anti-China Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), the ostensible purpose of which is to “counter the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party to democratic principles”. IPAC lists its funding sources as the Open Society Foundations, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, which should give readers some idea as to its ideological orientation.

Unfortunately the two major British political parties are equally enthusiastic about waging a propaganda war against China. Writing in the Mirror of 25 March 2024, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy stated: “The wave of cyber-attacks against British politicians and the hack of 40 million voters’ data is chilling. One country, China, is responsible.” He promised that, if elected, “Labour will work with NATO allies to develop new measures designed to protect our democratic values, institutions and open societies.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian responded that “China firmly opposes and combats all kinds of cyberattacks, and is committed to working with all countries, on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, to strengthen cooperation and jointly deal with the threats of cybersecurity through channels such as bilateral dialogue or judicial assistance.”

He further affirmed that “the evidence provided by the British side was inadequate and relevant conclusions lack professionalism”, and noted that the US, Britain and their allies have a long history of cyberattacks and espionage against China. He called on the US and Britain to “stop politicising cybersecurity issues, stop smearing China and imposing unilateral sanctions on China, and stop cyberattacks against China.”

A statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in the UK noted that “China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs”, adding drily that “whether the British government is good or bad, the British people will come to a conclusion sooner or later.”

An editorial in the Global Times pointed out that Britain’s shift away from a ‘golden era’ of relations with China towards a position of hostility coincides with a post-Brexit economic decline and corresponding increased dependence on the US. “It seems that the only way for Britain to secure its position in the ‘co-pilot’ seat is by closely aligning with the US and causing trouble for China.” Issuing slanders against China is simply an example of “deliberately stoking fear to advance their political agendas and achieve their political goals.”

A further Global Times report points to another incentive for Britain in painting China as a security threat: it paves the way for protectionism, for example in relation to Chinese-made electric vehicles and telecommunications infrastructure.

The Chinese Embassy statement and the two Global Times reports are reproduced below.

The Chinese Embassy in the UK issues statement to strongly condemn the UK side’s groundless accusation

On 25 March, the UK government made the groundless accusation that China had carried out cyberattacks against the UK, and announced sanctions on two Chinese individuals and one Chinese entity. In response to this, the Chinese Embassy in the UK issued a statement, strongly condemning the UK’s sinister action. The statement reads as follows:

The UK’s claim that China was responsible for malicious cyber campaigns targeting the UK is completely unfounded and constitutes malicious slander. We firmly oppose and strongly condemn this and have made a serious démarche to the UK side.

China is a major victim of cyberattacks. We have firmly fought and stopped all kinds of malicious cyber activities in accordance with the law, and have never encouraged, supported or condoned cyberattacks. The UK’s hype-up of the so-called “Chinese cyber attacks” without basis and the announcement of sanctions is outright political manipulation and malicious slander.

China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. We have no interest or need to meddle in the UK’s internal affairs. Whether the British government is good or bad, the British people will come to a conclusion sooner or later.

The UK falsely accused China of attempting to interfere with UK democracy. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. This is also a typical example of a thief crying “catch thief”.

China has always stood against illegal unilateral sanctions and will make a justified and necessary response to this.

We strongly urge the UK to immediately stop spreading false information about China, stop such self-staged, anti-China farces, and refrain from going further down the wrong path that leads only to failure.

The UK has scripted a big ‘China threat’ farce this time

London’s concerns about the “China threat” are increasingly veering toward absurdity. On Monday, British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden publicly accused China in parliament, alleging that “China state-affiliated actors” were involved in two cyberattacks targeting British democratic institutions and lawmakers. He also announced sanctions on two individuals and one company. Some British media outlets claimed that China obtained personal details of 40 million voters. Dowden also mentioned that statements of support from the US and other allies were expected later in the day. This may be the start of yet another collective attempt by the West to smear China.

Previously, in reports by British media, the widespread attention to “the disappearance of Kate Middleton” globally has also been linked to China. An article in The Telegraph, a British newspaper, without providing any evidence, claimed that “China and Russia are fueling disinformation to destabilize the nation” by spreading negative information about the British royal family. From stealing personal information of 40 million voters and deliberately undermining British democracy, to sensationalizing news about Kate Middleton and affecting the reputation of the British royal family and national security, it seems as though China has endless designs on the UK, doing nothing else all day but targeting the UK. This symptom of paranoia deserves a severe diagnosis.

In recent years, the UK has become one of the most enthusiastic countries in the West to hype up the “Chinese spies” and “China threat.” Chinese-made cameras have been banned under suspicion of being “spy cameras,” Chinese-made electric cars are labeled as “four-wheeled Trojan horses” monitoring British citizens for Beijing, and even Hong Kong laundry workers with a long hiring history in the British navy have been dismissed due to alleged “spy risks.” The bizarre accusations from the UK about “Chinese spies” and “China threats” are sufficient to compile into a comprehensive “paranoia casebook.”

From what we can see now, London seems somewhat intoxicated with this absurd farce and delusion, even embracing it, charging headlong into absurdity, and even treating it as a lever to enhance its “global influence.” As is well-known, post-Brexit Britain has stumbled economically and lost some visibility in diplomacy. In order to assert its position as a core member within the Western camp, it seems that the only way to secure its position in the “co-pilot” seat is by closely aligning with the US and causing trouble for China.

In fact, it is not China but the UK that is focused on causing disruption and infiltration. China has previously reported a case where the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) used the head of a foreign consulting firm to gather intelligence related to China for the British side and look for individuals to be recruited by the MI6. British media have also reported that agencies like MI6 have advertised to recruit Chinese-speaking individuals for intelligence activities. This is why some British politicians are so sensitive and fearful of so-called Chinese infiltration and influence; it’s a projection of their own thoughts and actions.

Regarding cyberattacks and cyber espionage, as the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated, the issue of tracing the origins of cyberattacks is highly complex and sensitive. When investigating and determining cyber events, there should be sufficient objective evidence rather than baselessly smearing other countries, and cybersecurity issues should not be politicized. British politicians and media have repeatedly thrown out unverified or even deliberately distorted information, clearly not aiming to seek the truth.

The so-called “Chinese spies” and “China threat” are nothing but the paranoia of some anti-China extremist politicians hijacking the entire country. They deliberately stoke fear of China to advance their political agendas and achieve their political goals. On one hand, by hyping up the idea of “Chinese spies” and “China threat,” they cover up their failures in addressing domestic issues in the UK and divert public attention. On the other hand, there are those who simply do not want good relations between China and the UK. Just as China-UK relations were beginning to show signs of dialogue last year, suddenly there emerged a groundless case of the arrest of a parliamentary researcher as a spy, intentionally causing trouble for bilateral relations.

Regarding the recent British hype about Chinese “cyberattacks” affecting 40 million voters, an important background highlighted in British media reports is the upcoming general election in the UK later this year. By using such attention-grabbing numbers to stir up fear of foreign interference, it’s essentially scaring themselves, showing a lack of confidence in their democratic system. A previous poll showed that 43 percent of respondents believed that the UK was “in decline,” with only 6 percent believing that the UK’s political system was functioning well. If they are genuinely concerned about their democratic system being undermined, what Britain should do is not to go around with a loudspeaker looking for enemies but to earnestly search for and address their own problems. The enemy is not outside, and certainly not China.

UK hypes ‘China’s cyber-attacks,’ as electoral politics drives blame shifting

The recent briefings run British politicians have started a new round of “China threat” hype with the focus on cybersecurity, a smear campaign not deviant from their long-term anti-China stance but intensified by the upcoming general election

, Chinese observers said on Monday.  Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is set to inform parliament on Monday that Beijing is behind a wave of cyber attacks against members of parliament (MPs) and peers, as well as accessing the personal details of 40 million voters in a hack on the Electoral Commission last year, Sky News reported.Parliament’s director of security Alison Giles has convened a briefing with the attendance of a small group of China hawks, including former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former minister Tim Loughton, the crossbench peer Lord Alton and the SNP MP Stewart McDonald, the Times reported.The four are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a cross-country anti-China coalition formed in 2020 that was derided as a 

contemporary era “Eight-Nation Alliance” invasion force.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron is also set to brief the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs on Monday evening, and the topic of China and security will likely be raised.

In response to those accusations against China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said on Monday’s routine press briefing that tracing cyberattacks is highly complex and sensitive. There should be sufficient, objective evidence when investigating and characterizing cyber incidents, rather than smear other countries without facts, let alone politicizing cyber security issues.   Cybersecurity is a global challenge and China is one of the major victims of cyber-attacks. China always resolutely resists all types of malicious online activities in accordance with the law, and advocates that all countries jointly respond through dialogue and cooperation, Lin said, “We hope that all parties will stop spreading false information, take a responsible attitude and jointly maintain the peace and security of cyberspace.”

Hyping “cyber attacks from China” continues on the anti-China path of Conservatives and is not very different from the UK’s past smear campaigns against Chinese firms or products. Basically their argument is “anything from China can constitute a threat,” Li Guanjie, a research fellow with the Shanghai Academy of Global Governance and Area Studies under the Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday. But intensifying such hypes at the moment is related to the general election to be held later this year, Li believes.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has declined to brand China a threat, despite pressure from some wings of the party, and as the election approaches, harden tone against China is an easy campaign method, analysts said. 

Hao Min, dean of the Department of Law of the University of International Relations, told the Global Times on Monday that blame shifting is also an easy approach to divert domestic anxiety and discontent on sluggish economy and social issues. Painting China as a security threat also paves to protectionist policies in economic realm, Hao said, citing the latest British media reports that Chinese-made electric cars in UK could be jammed remotely by Beijing

. Hao noticed the UK’s hardline stance on China has become more prominent after the Brexit, as London aligned with Washington closer in foreign policy. The attacks on Chinese EVs came on heels of the US’ similar smears.

As global geopolitics becomes “Cold War-alike,” such camp-based rather than fact-based rows will continue, analysts said, but China will firmly reject such smear campaigns and defend its own interests in line with the law.

According to Guardian, the UK could impose sanctions on individuals believed to be involved in acts of state-backed interference. If the UK takes any concrete actions, they will be responded by countermeasures from China, analysts said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *