China has penetrated 'every sector' of the UK's economy, Parliamentary committee warns

13 July 2023, 19:24

British and Chinese flags flying together
British and Chinese flags flying together. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

China has been allowed to aggressively target the UK due to the government's failure to develop an effective strategy, a group of top MPs has found.

A report published by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee said China had penetrated every aspect of the UK economy.

The committee also accused the government of failing to properly tackle the threat posed by China.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted that is "keenly aware" that the government needs to do more to tackle the country's threat.

Mr Sunak, in a written statement, said: "The committee's inquiry began in 2019 and took the bulk of its evidence in 2020, pre-dating both the Integrated Review 2021 and the Integrated Review Refresh 2023."

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty

According to the report, the government's response to tackling China has been "completely inadequate".

"The nature of China's engagement, influence and interference activity may be difficult to detect," the report says.

"But even more concerning is the fact that the Government may not previously have been looking for it."

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Depending the government's position, Mr Sunak continued: "These are both comprehensive national security and international policy reviews that considerably strengthen our position on China. The Government has already taken actions that are in line with many of the committee's recommendations."

He said that in responding to the "systemic challenge" from China identified in the Integrated Review Refresh, the Government has committed to greater national security protections, closer alignment with allies and engagement with Beijing to preserve stable relations.

But Sir Julian Lewis, in a press conference on Thursday, said: "I've been at pains to point out that we have to have a cut-off point when it comes to taking evidence.

That does not mean to say that we are not continually in dialogue and receiving quarterly reports, for example, from all the intelligence agencies that cover all these matters."

Meanwhile, fellow committee member Kevan Jones called it a "weak" response from the Prime Minister.

"If that is the response from Government, that somehow the report's out of date, I would come up with better arguments than that."

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