For almost three decades, Christine Ching Kui Lee has been a pillar of the Anglo-Chinese community. As in all countries, we may find enthusiastic people who try to create a bond between the country where they are staying and their heimat China. Ms Lee is a wealthy lawyer and campaigner, who was active from her home in the suburban West Midlands, energetic in promoting Chinese interests in Britain.
Christine Lee has made large donations to Labour MP Barry Gardiner’s office, but he said MI5 has reassured him they were all above board. Her son resigned from his office on Friday January 14.
A letter was sent to MPs by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle who said MI5 warned him a woman called Christine Lee has been
“engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with members here at parliament”.
MI5 sent out an “interference alert” warning Ms Lee has
“facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China…done covertly to mask the origins of the payments”.
The British government was already investigating Ms Lee for a long time. After their warning that Lee was working
“on behalf of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist Party”.
what is left of the website of the British Chinese Project (BCP), wrote on the internet
“Due to the Covid situation, it is with great regret that the British Chinese Project is unable to continue to operate and will be dormant until further notice.”
The MI5 note said the UFWD gathers intelligence on, and attempts to influence, Chinese individuals and organisations outside the party proper that are in positions of power, or those likely to be in such positions in the future, and was
“seeking to covertly interfere in UK politics through establishing links with established and aspiring parliamentarians across the political spectrum”, and to “cultivate relationships with influential figures”.
It must be noted that the Labour MP and former minister Barry Gardiner and his constituency party received £584,000, which by now are considered
improper funding channelled through Christine Lee,
but not relating to any funding received by his office.
Being a committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a central part of the Chinese Communist Party‘s United Front system, she was able to come together with party elders, intelligence officers, diplomats, propagandists, soldiers and political commissars, united front workers, academics, and businesspeople. In practice, CPPCC members serve as advisors for the government and legislative and judicial organs.
It is clear that we have to do with modern espionage, the Chinese lawyer very well penetrated the English system. She has patiently taken her time and worked herself up in her entourage of important British people. These days the slower-burn espionage perpetrated by agents of influence such as Lee – often, as in this case, below the threshold of criminal activity – is becoming a more efficient use of spies’ time, totally different from the times of the Cold War. These efforts have been accelerated by the ubiquitous spread of digitisation around the world.
The world of the internet has opened many doors, and often people connecting with social networks often do not know they are used as ping pong balls in the smart game of big concerns, organisations and states.
London’s latest accusations come a week after a rare online exchange between Chinese state news agency Xinhua and the head of Britain’s MI6 in response to a spoof by Xinhua of James Bond that mocked the Western intelligence community’s focus on Beijing.
The foreign ministry of China denied engaging in “interference activities”, blasting the accusations of espionage as
“alarmist remarks based on some individuals’ subjective assumptions”.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference
“Perhaps some individuals have watched too many 007 movies, leading to unnecessary mental associations.”
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