Top MPs have issued a stern warning, stating that Britain’s failure to acknowledge the threat posed by China has exposed the country to long-term risks.
The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament has released a damning report, criticizing ministers for neglecting warnings about the dangers posed by China and highlighting serious failings in their response.
The report places significant pressure on Rishi Sunak, as top MPs urge him to officially designate China as a “threat.” The head of MI5 has emphasized that China presents the central intelligence challenge for the next decade.
The report also reveals a lack of a comprehensive and coherent strategy for China within the government.
According to the committee, the UK’s intelligence community has been playing catch-up, as it ignored the growing power and risks associated with China while focusing on short-term objectives.
The report states that China now poses an existential threat to liberal democracy, with the potential nightmare scenario of intellectual property theft and pervasive influence exerted by the nation.
MPs raise concerns about China’s involvement in the UK’s critical national infrastructure, cautioning against accepting Chinese investment that could result in ceding control to the Chinese Communist Party. They stress that it is unacceptable for the government to consider such involvement.
The report highlights the extensive penetration of the UK economy by China and criticizes ministers for accepting Chinese funds without sufficient scrutiny.
It states that China’s state intelligence operation is likely the largest in the world, targeting the UK and its interests aggressively and prolifically. The sheer scale of the challenge for MI5 and MI6 to monitor these activities is immense.
The report concludes that the government’s resources have been wholly inadequate and that a comprehensive whole-of-government approach is lacking. It raises concerns about academics accepting Chinese funding without considering the potential theft of dual-use technology, which could be exploited for military purposes.
The warnings issued by top MPs emphasize the urgent need for the UK to address the risks and challenges posed by China. It is crucial for the government to develop a comprehensive strategy, allocate adequate resources, and strengthen the country’s defenses against Chinese influence and aggression.
Failure to do so may have severe implications for national security and the protection of British interests.