China arrests suspected British spy
China has announced it has detained a foreign national who was allegedly gathering sensitive data on behalf of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The UK has yet to comment on the allegation.
Beijing’s Ministry of National Security, which oversees both intelligence and counterintelligence, said on Monday that the UK spy agency “used personnel from a third country to conduct espionage against China.”
The ministry identified the alleged culprit as Huang Moumou, who is said to have headed an overseas consulting agency, but did not provide any further personal details. MI6 recruited Huang in 2015 and established an “intelligence cooperation relationship” with him, the ministry claimed.
Since then, the alleged spy has traveled to China several times at the direction of British intelligence to collect state secrets and identify personnel for MI6 to “incite rebellion,” the ministry’s statement read. It added that London also provided Huang with intelligence training in the UK and other places, and with special spy equipment.
The ministry stated that it had “discovered criminal evidence” and subsequently took “criminal coercive measures” against the suspect, adding that Huang had provided the UK with more than a dozen state secrets.
While Western countries and China have routinely traded accusations of espionage, several media outlets suggested that this is the first instance in which Beijing has claimed to have caught a British-linked spy.
The ministry previously claimed to have arrested spies acting on behalf of the US. In August, on two separate occasions, it accused a government worker and an employee of a Chinese military industrial group of attempting to hand over sensitive data to the CIA.
This came after the US agency's director, William Burns said in July that Washington had “made progress” in recent years to ensure it has a “strong human intelligence capability” in China. In response, Beijing vowed to “take all necessary measures to safeguard national security.”
According to a 2017 New York Times investigation, the Chinese government busted a CIA spy ring in the early 2010s, jailing or killing dozens of informants working for the US. Beijing neither confirmed nor denied the report, but said it routinely handles activities that endanger national security.
The British MI5 intelligence service warned in October of the “epic scale” of Chinese espionage, saying that more than 20,000 people in the UK had been approached by operatives who sought to acquire various secrets. China has consistently denied that it is engaged in spying against the US and UK.