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The shadow of Chinese espionage hangs over Westminster

Correspondent in London.

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The shadow of Chinese espionage hangs over Westminster

Correspondent in London

The Chinese shadow once again hovers over Westminster. London police announced Monday the indictment of two men suspected of spying for China. In particular, they would have had access to important figures in the Conservative Party and are accused of having “provided damaging information to a foreign state”.

Aged 29 and 32, the two men are alleged to have spied for China between the end of 2021 and February 2023. According to Scotland Yard, Christopher Cash and Christopher Berry are accused of having obtained, collected, recorded, published or communicated documents or information “believed to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.” The two suspects were arrested in March 2023 - before being later released on bail - and the case revealed by the Times last September. Commander Dominic Murphy, the MET's head of counter-terrorism, said it was an "extremely complex investigation into very serious allegations".

Also read: Suspected of spying for China, assistant to German AfD MEP arrested

After teaching English in Hangzhou, in eastern China, Chris Cash became a young researcher employed as an assistant to Alicia Kearns, chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. He was also very involved in an influential group on Chinese issues, the China Research Group, co-founded by Secretary of State for Security Tom Tugendhat. Very active on the social scene of Parliament, Chris Cash organized a regular event in a pub near Parliament, the “Westminster China Policy Drinks”, which was attended by young civil servants, political collaborators, journalists and members of think tanks. Chris Berry also taught economics and English for a time in China.

Son of a wealthy family who studied history at the University of St Andrews, Chris Cash said he was “totally innocent”. “Until now, I have spent my career trying to educate others about the challenge and threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” the researcher defended in a statement released by his lawyers.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed “deep concern about any interference in our parliamentary democracy” to his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit. China called the accusations a “political farce.” A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London denounced the accusation as “entirely fabricated and malicious”. And asked London to “put an end to anti-Chinese political manipulation”. In 2022, British intelligence had already unmasked a Chinese government agent, Christine Lee, who was very active in political and parliamentary circles, including through financial donations.

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