Jeremy Fleming, the head of Britain’s cyber-intelligence agency, GCHQ, has accused China of using its technological and economical clout to exert control abroad. He has said that the country’s aggressive international stance poses a “a huge threat to us all.”
The GCHQ director has said that Beijing’s Communist authorities are seeking to “shape the global tech ecosystem.” According to him, they are using using technologies such as digital currencies and satellite systems to control China’s population and increase its influence around the world.
GCHQ, formally known as the Government Communications Headquarters, is one of Britain’s three main intelligence agencies, alongside MI5 and MI6. It did not disclose the sources of its intelligence on China and Russia.
In a rare public speech later Tuesday to the Royal United Services Institute think tank, Fleming plans to say that the one-party system in Beijing seeks to control China’s population and sees other countries “as either potential adversaries or potential client states, to be threatened, bribed or coerced.”
Extracts of Fleming’s speech were released in advance and according to one bit, “we’re seeing that fear play out through the manipulation of the technological ecosystems which underpin our everyday lives — from monitoring its own citizens and restricting free speech to influencing financial systems and new domains.”
He will say that “underlying that belief is a sense of fear.”
More recently, British spies have provided negative assessments of China’s influence and intentions with the head of the MI6, Richard Moore, saying last year that China is one of the biggest threats to Britain and is allies.
Relations between Britain and China have grown increasingly frosty in recent years, with U.K. officials accusing Beijing of economic subterfuge and human rights abuses.
Fleming is expected to say that China is trying to use digital currencies used by central banks to snoop on users’ transactions and as a way of avoiding future international sanctions of the sort imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In addition, the director of the GCHQ will argue against China’s BeiDou satellite system which is being touted as an alternative to GPS navigation technology. According to him, it could contain “a powerful anti-satellite capability, with a doctrine of denying other nations access to space in the event of a conflict.”
Shortly after the United States banned Chinese tech firm Huawei, calling it a security risk for allegedly putting up connections close to military bases in 2020, then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson followed suit and ordered the company to be taken off the UK’s 5G telecom network by 2027.