MI6 boss warns of Chinese ‘debt traps and data traps’
The recently appointed head of Britain’s foreign security service, more formally known as the Secret Intelligence Service, or SIS, said: “China has set debt traps and data traps” prompting the UK to take more stringent security measures. Mr Moore, also known as ‘C’ said: “Beijing is trying to use influence through its economic policies to try and sometimes, I think, get people on the hook”.
Explaining the “data trap”, he said: “If you allow another country to gain access to really critical data about your society, over time that will erode your sovereignty, you no longer have control over that data.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme, the top spy chief added: “That’s something which, I think, in the UK we are very alive to and we’ve taken measures to defend against.”
Britain has long been wary of Chinese influence throughout its infrastructure and network.
London followed orders from Washington to curb and eventually ban Chinese company Huawei from installing the nation’s 5G network through fear of distant monitoring of communications traffic, as well as data mining.
Richard Moore, Head of MI6
Mr Moore has warned of the Chinese threat
Speaking later at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Mr Moore said China was now “the single greatest priority” for his agency and warned that a “miscalculation” by an over-confident regime in Beijing over an issue like Taiwan could pose a “serious challenge” to global peace.
Britain has angered China in recent times following the signing of the AUKUS deal, which former MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers said: “Although the pact is not aggressive towards China, it’s a defence alliance, and in many ways, it’s China that has been expanding its military footprint, into the South China Sea and the Indian Pacific Ocean.”
He stated its “support for a wider defence arrangement”, but “China is the main focus of concern.”
Britain banned China’s Huawei from the 5G infrastructure
Sir John Sawer said AUKUS was for defence purposes against China
Mr Moore also warned of the threats posed by Russia.
He described Moscow as an “acute threat” and said Russian President Vladimir Putin has been clear that he does not recognise Ukraine’s right to be an independent state.
Mr Moore said: “From time to time we get sort of crises around Ukraine as we worry about a build-up of troops and what President Putin’s intentions might be.”
He added: “Therefore it bears very careful watching and it bears very careful signalling to the Russians about, you know, the price that they would have to pay if they intervened, as they did in 2014.”
He said there was not “an adversarial sort of agenda here”, adding: “We’re not trying to encircle Russia, we’re not trying to prevent it from pursuing its legitimate interest.”
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Russia is also mentioned as a concern for the UK
During the height of the Cold War, around 80 percent of British Intelligence resources were focused on counter-intelligence and anti-Soviet measures.
The parameters changed when the Iron Curtain fell, and global terrorism and extremism took the front step following 9/11, which saw a complete turn of resources, seeing SIS, the Security Services, (MI5) and Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) focus 80 percent of their efforts on counter-terrorism.
The notion that China and Russia are once again emerging as global players means that for the first time since the end of the Cold War, Mr Moore has hinted that the crime-terror nexus maybe once again about to see itself behind in priorities as new threats emerge.
Many questioned whether Brexit would have an impact on the efficiency of the British intelligence services, yet experts claim that the UK remain firmly in control of their security apparatus, in part assisted by being a member of the 5 eyes intelligence network.
Mr Moore denied the Taliban sweep to power was an intelligence failure
With intelligence failures being blamed for many catastrophic global events, Mr Moore was quick to deny this was the case in the hasty withdrawal by US and allied forces in Afghanistan.
The assessment of the speed at which the Taliban would seize control of Kabul as British and American troops withdrew from Afghanistan was “clearly wrong”, Mr Moore admitted on the Today programme.
But he said it was “really overblown to describe it in terms of intelligence failure”. “None of us predicted the speed of the fall of Kabul,” he said.
The SIS head added: “Frankly, if we had recruited every member of the Taliban Shura, you know, the leadership group of the Taliban, [if] we recruited every one of them as a secret agent, we still wouldn’t have predicted the fall of Kabul because the Taliban didn’t.”
However, he added that there is no “soft soaping” that the victory of the Taliban had been a “serious reverse” and he is concerned it will be a “morale boost for extremists around the world, and indeed for those sitting in the capitals in Beijing and Moscow”.