LONDON – The head of Britain’s cyber intelligence agency has accused China of using its economic and technological clout to crack down domestically and exercise control abroad, saying Beijing’s aggressive stance is fear-driven and poses “a major threat to us all.” “
Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, says Beijing’s communist authorities are trying to “shape the global tech ecosystem,” using technologies like digital currencies and satellite systems to control Chinese people and increase their influence around the world.
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 the Chinese people and sees other countries “either as potential adversaries or potential client states to be threatened , bribed or coerced.”
He will say that “underlying this belief is a sense of fear.”
“And we see that fear spreading through the manipulation of the technological ecosystems that underpin our daily lives — from policing our own citizens and curtailing freedom of expression to influencing financial systems and new domains,” Fleming said, according to excerpts from the Newspaper say speech pre-released.
Britain-China relations have grown increasingly frosty in recent years, with British officials accusing Beijing of economic subterfuge and human rights abuses.
British spies have increasingly taken a negative view of Beijing’s influence and intentions. Last year, Richard Moore, head of the foreign intelligence agency MI6, identified China as one of the biggest threats to Britain and its allies.
Fleming will warn that China is trying to fragment the Internet’s infrastructure in order to exert greater control. He will also say that China is trying to use digital currencies, used by central banks to spy on users’ transactions and to avoid future international sanctions like those imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Fleming also argues that China’s BeiDou satellite system — an alternative to widely deployed GPS navigation technology — “may contain a strong anti-satellite capability, with a doctrine of denying other nations access to space in the event of conflict.”
GCHQ said Fleming will warn the world is approaching a “sliding door moment in history” – a reference to the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film in which a woman’s fate hinges on a seemingly trivial moment.
He will urge Western companies and researchers to tighten intellectual property protections and Western countries to work harder to develop alternatives to Chinese technology, which Fleming says has “hidden costs.”
The US banned Chinese tech company Huawei as a security risk, and in 2020 then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Huawei to be removed from Britain’s 5G telecom network by 2027.
Fleming will also address the war in Ukraine, saying that Russia is running out of guns and “Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide.”
“Russia’s armed forces are exhausted,” he will say. “The use of prisoners to reinforce and now the mobilization of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts speaks of a desperate situation.”
GCHQ, officially known as Government Communications Headquarters, is one of the three main British intelligence agencies, along with MI5 and MI6. It has not disclosed the sources of its intelligence information about China and Russia.
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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/10/11/uk-spy-chief-says-chinas-tech-aims-are-a-threat-to-us-all/ British spy chief says China’s tech targets are a “threat to us all”.