Targets include individuals in ‘key positions’ in the government, the military, industries, and the wider society, according to the Cabinet Office.
The Chinese regime has targeted officials and other people in “key positions” with their recruitment schemes, the UK government said on Thursday.
It follows a string of recent revelations that suspected Chinese agents have targeted British politicians, officials, academics, and others for intelligence.
The government “recognises that Chinese recruitment schemes have tried to headhunt British and allied nationals in key positions and with sensitive knowledge and experience, including from government, military, industry and wider society,” the Cabinet Office said in a document published on Thursday.
“As the [Intelligence and Security] Committee [ISC] notes, there is more work to be done,” the Cabinet Office said.
In the report, the ISC said the Chinese regime had managed to overtly “penetrate every sector of the UK’s economy” over the years through takeovers, mergers, and interactions with British academia and industry.
It also said the UK was high on Beijing’s list of targets for espionage and interference given its global influence and its relationship with the United States.
The 222-page report criticised the government and security agencies for their “serious failure” in protecting UK assets and negligence in tackling the Chinese interference activities in the UK.
“Until recently, our agencies did not even recognize that they had any responsibility for countering Chinese interference activity in the UK,” the report said at the time.
The committee also said Whitehall’s approach to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was inadequately resourced, incoherent, and short-sighted, and called for a cross-departmental approach to countering the threat.
The ISC is the parliamentary watchdog of security agencies including the MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Defence Intelligence, the Joint Intelligence Organisation, the National Security Secretariat, and Homeland Security Group.
In its response published on Thursday, the government listed the progress that had been made since the ISC took the bulk of its evidence in 2020, including the passing of new laws to target foreign agents and the setting up of task forces and public bodies to focus on different aspects of the foreign threat.