China’s spy training spells bad news for ‘gullible’ Brits, intelligence experts said (Canada too?)
HINA is using an “elite” army of spies to hunt down and recruit Brits from UK unis to steal secrets, it has been warned.
Using a three-pronged approach, Chinese spies “befriend” students studying degrees such as engineering or IT and offer them glitzy trips to China – before convincing them to spill UK secrets, one intelligence expert said.
It comes after an alleged “Chinese spy” was arrested in March after reportedly passing top secret parliamentary documents to China.
But it’s also feared Xi Jinping’s minions could be infiltrating Britain’s universities in a bid to influence and recruit spies for the Communist regime – and steal state secrets.
Professor Anthony Glees, an intelligence expert from the University of Buckingham, outlined three steps Chinese spies would likely use to snare unsuspecting British students.
Stage One – The Hunt
Universities that have a Confucious Institute are also big hits for student spooks, as it makes tracking down those self-identifying as being interested in Chinese culture that much easier.
Students and young researchers studying subjects including telecommunications, IT, weapons development, and engineering are generally the biggest targets, Glees said.
But “naive Brits” don’t always consider the knowledge they have to be especially useful – especially to a superpower like China.
Glees explained there are several areas of interest the Chinese have as they work towards building a “rich intelligence picture of the United Kingdom”.
“One of the specific things that they want is to find out everything about those who might be China’s enemies or enemies in the near future, and that includes the United Kingdom and things that might strike us as being completely irrelevant to China,” he said.
The Chinese spy will then “befriend the lonely students” who are seen studying and throwing themselves into their research.
Glees said students who are likely to “end up in a decision-making capacity, and in a position where they will have secret intelligence to pass on to China” will be hunted.
He described this process as a “traditional Communist spycraft”.
Stage Two – The Catch
According to the intelligence expert, glamorous gifts of cultural trips to China, beautiful women, and more recently cash, are funnelled into the mix of the chilling recruitment process.
British students will be showered with flattery as the Chinese become “past masters” at making impressionable, career-focused young adults feel respected in their field.
“They tell them they’re doing amazing research of the greatest interest, and that is an enormously powerful incentive,” Glees said.
But the danger begins the moment the British student accepts the invitation to visit China, as it signifies a twisted deeper interest in doing business with the country.
Glees added that more recently, China is using cash incentives to draw eager, unsuspecting Brits to the country as they offer them the opportunity to have their research funded.
“What happens is that your success as a researcher begins to depend on Chinese money and cooperation with China,” he explained.
“So, they are quite sophisticated.
“But underlying all of this is the brutality of a one-party dictatorship that is determined to uphold the power of President Xi and the power and influence of China for the rest of this century.”
This tangles students up in a web of co-dependency and trust, even though most Brits will have fallen into the trap with no ulterior motive other than an innocent interest in learning about China.
Stage Three – The Execution
When the student reaches China, they are then likely targeted by the undercover spook’s friends and fellow spies, Glees explained.
They are often met with beautiful women, and high-quality alcohol, while their “friend” prepares to finally extract the information they had been seeking from the beginning.
“They go there, and they’re spotted,” Glees explained.
“They’re spotted by a tour leader, they’re spotted by a concierge in a hotel, they’ve drunk too much at a reception, they’ve allowed themselves to ogle a beautiful Chinese girl.
“And Brits will provide information, which to them seems completely useless or obvious, but fits into the Chinese jigsaw, which they need.”
Glees warned that amid elaborate plans coming from China to catch potentially useful students, the UK has become naive.
“People don’t understand that China has changed,” he said.
“China is an adversary of ours and a potential enemy of ours – their opportunity is our danger, and we need to understand that and act accordingly.
“You don’t have to be guilty of exaggeration to see how there could be a direct link between a relationship with a British student working on, engineering maybe, in her or his twenties who ten years later lands up with a job giving [the Chinese] access to nuclear secrets.”
Glees added: “These rings of spies, they can exert huge influence because people don’t know that they’re batting for the other side.”
But students aren’t the only group of Brits at risk of falling victim to the carefully orchestrated and elaborate schemes of Chinese spies.
Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese Studies at King’s College London, told The Sun that not only Brit students could be lured in, but also professionals and tourists.
“There could be British people in China who are dragged into this and that’s obviously a direct impact,” he said.
“The last thing we want is then for this to spill over into Britain and for Chinese students here to then be dragged into this too.”
Professor Brown warned said the “idea that the world outside is ganging up on China has created a sense of paranoia”.
“We’re in a difficult enough position at the moment with the idea that they [Chinese people] will not be trusted in Britain because of this happening in China,” he said.
“Or that there might be a tiny number of these students here who might actually start to think that they can do a bit of spy busting in Britain.
“I hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, it’s going to be really, really terrible.”
Insiders said the arrest of the alleged Chinese spy in March is likely to be the “tip of the iceberg” and a spy ring could be operating in Westminster.
As tensions continue to rise between the UK and China over spying allegations, it was revealed that China tried to spy on a civil servant by hiding a listening device in a teapot.
The UK Beijing embassy worker only found the bug when the pot smashed – and it was not thought to have picked up any secret or sensitive information.
China’s top universities have been training students to become a so-called “defence line” against foreign forces and learn how to “spot a spy”.
And students at Beihang University were asked to play an interactive game called “Who’s The Spy?”