A leading security think tank warned on Wednesday of
China's growing "interference" in British politics, media, academia,
business, technology and other areas.
A report by the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) adds to concerns about alleged Chinese interference raised in Western nations including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland.
"Unlike Moscow, Beijing's interference is not aimed at subverting the West, but represents a rigorous, ruthless advancement of China's interests and values at the expense of those of the West, including through actions which encourage self-censorship and self-limiting policies," RUSI said.
"The Chinese Communist Party sees controlling the narrative about China abroad as important for reinforcing its legitimacy and justifying its monopoly on domestic power," it said. "It is also important for advancing its geopolitical aims." The report urged London to be more assertive in building a relationship with Beijing based on "genuine reciprocity." Its main author, Charles Parton, a China expert and former British diplomat, said he aimed to "stimulate debate ... about whether what China is doing is unacceptable."
Parton highlighted examples of China interfering in Britain's political processes; pressuring academics "to avoid certain subjects or speakers;" and "threatening British citizens or residents of the UK."
In December, US and British officials said businesses and government agencies in the two nations and at least 10 other countries had been the victims of a massive data theft carried out by state-sponsored Chinese hackers. Beijing has rejected the allegations. It accuses critical Western politicians and media of adopting a "Cold War mentality."
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