China accuses MI6 of recruiting Chinese state workers as spies

China accuses MI6 of recruiting Chinese state workers as spies

Beijing has accused Britain’s MI6 of recruiting Chinese state employees as spies as the two countries traded allegations of espionage.

China’s Ministry of State Security said in a statement on Monday that it had cracked a “major espionage case” uncovering two moles “planted by the British side within our ranks”.

It identified the suspected moles as a man surnamed Wang and his wife Zhou who both worked in sensitive departments of a Chinese state agency.

Last month, Britain charged three people for spying for Hong Kong’s intelligence service. Similar charges were made in April against two people accused of spying for China, one of them a former researcher for a prominent Conservative Party lawmaker.

The Chinese ministry claimed that MI6 started cultivating Mr Wang while he was studying in the UK in 2015 under a Sino-British exchange programme.

According to the statement, MI6 agents exploited Mr Wang’s financial vulnerabilities to eventually persuade him and his wife to work for the British government as spies. He was invited to dinners and tours arranged by MI6 while he was in the UK, the ministry said, to understand his “character weaknesses and personal interests”.

“The British side started with open research projects and gradually moved into core internal matters of our central state agencies, paying him a fee significantly higher than normal consulting rates. Though Wang was somewhat wary of this, he continued to provide so-called ‘consulting’ services to the British side under the lure of large sums of money.”

Mr Wang allegedly accepted the offer and underwent espionage training from MI6. He then returned to China as instructed to gather intelligence, the ministry said.

The British spy agency subsequently pressured Mr Wang to convince his wife, who worked in a “core state agency”, to participate in the espionage offering to double the money, the ministry alleged. “Under Wang’s strong instigation, Zhou agreed to collect intelligence,” it said, “and he and his wife became British spies.”

The case is under further investigation, the ministry said.

The Independent has contacted Britain’s Foreign Office for comment.