China 'tracked prime minister's movements using hidden tracking device in car parts'

7 August 2023, 08:13 | Updated: 7 August 2023, 08:23

China tracked the prime minister, Sir Iain Duncan Smith claimed
China tracked the prime minister, Sir Iain Duncan Smith claimed. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Beijing was tracking the prime minister using car parts manufactured in China, Sir Iain Duncan Smith has told LBC.

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The former Tory leader said he was "reliably told" that cars used by the government had to be stripped and a tracking device was found inside.

The prominent China critic told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast about "those devices that they've been putting into Downing Street cars, although they won't admit it, tracking where the Prime Minister was going, knowing who he was seeing, this is exactly what they can do with batteries and with their cars".

His comments would confirm previous reports that the security services found at least one SIM in a government car.

It was discovered in a sealed part that had been imported from a China-based supplier.

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The cards can track vehicles' movements and send the data to state-owned enterprises there.

Sir Iain said: "It was never absolutely confirmed, of course they wouldn't do for security reasons, but I'm pretty reliably told that they had to strip out the cars to find the devices based in the little SIMs, and they were capable and were tracking the cars and the car journeys.

"They have capability to be able to throw the switch, as it were, on batteries et cetera, as and when they wish."

An intelligence officer previously told the I that cars had been "dismantled surgically" and "rather disturbing things" were found.

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

China was capable of tracking government cars, it has been claimed
China was capable of tracking government cars, it has been claimed. Picture: Alamy

"It gives the ability to survey government over a period of months and years, constantly filing movements, constantly building up a rich picture of activity," he said.

"You can do it slowly and methodically over a very, very long time. That's the vulnerability."

Chinese officials said the claims were "sheer rumour" in January.

"We are firmly opposed to political manipulation on normal economic and trade cooperation or any smear on Chinese enterprises," they said.

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Sir Iain has also been critical of the impact of China's car trade on Britain, especially given restrictions imposed on Britain's domestic market by the drive to achieve Net Zero.

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030.

There are fears China will dominate the electric car market, increasing reliance on Beijing. Ministers also fear that technology embedded in the cars will be used to build up a massive picture of information about the UK.