A “sugar 007” in Westminster

Wavy brown hair, square glasses, discreet smile. The face of Chinese-British lawyer Christine Ching Kui Lee displayed on the MI5 warning notice is well known to Westminster lawmakers. For more than two decades, the 58-year-old lawyer has continued to take several initiatives aimed at strengthening ties between China and the United Kingdom.

But since 13 January, he has been openly accused by the British Internal Intelligence Service. “Indulging in activities of willful political interference” For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) United Front Work Department. The MI5 warning notice states that this branch of the CCP “Secretly wants to interfere in British politics”, through established or developing relationships with parliamentarians and influential personalities “To ensure that the British political landscape fits the agenda of the CCP”,

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The list of his gateway projects is long. In 1997, he contributed to the creation of a multi-party parliamentary group on China – which is now disbanded. Nine years later, Christine Lee founded the British Sugar Project, a non-profit organization that aims to promote understanding and cooperation between the Chinese community and British society. This initiative would earn him the time to be decorated in 2019 by then-Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.

“Massive Espionage Operation”

In total, Christine Lee launched sixteen companies and associations dedicated to the development of Sino-British relations. Eleven are still active. If the 50-year-old has managed to emerge among the British elite, she is also very close to Chinese power, as evidenced by her shaking hands with Xi Jinping during a conference in Beijing in 2019.

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The lawyer served as legal adviser to the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs, an agency overseeing the United Front Labor Department, and remains a foreign member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a powerless assembly decision-maker. The firm, named Christine Lee & Company solicitors,Also provided legal advice to the Chinese Embassy in the UK and the Chinese Consulate General in Belfast.

According to the MI5 notice, Christine Lee facilitated the payment of “Financial donations to political parties, MPs, aspiring MPs and those considering political office in the UK”, Among them: Labor MP Barry Gardiner. According to researcher and author Martin Thorley of a thesis on the hidden ties between China and the United Kingdom, Christine Lee donated to the Labor Party in her constituency of Brent North in 2009, before sending her first direct donation in 2015. From 2015 to 2020, he will have paid more than £580,000 (€694,000) to Barry Gardiner through his law firm.

Donation

Academics parallel this financial support and political support given by the MP to expand the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in the south-west of England, in which several Chinese companies were to participate. In 2016, Barry Gardiner went against his side and defended the project critical of Beijing’s nuclear ambitions. Similarly, in February 2013, Christine Lee donated Ed Davey’s constituency to the Liberal Democrat Party, when the latter was Minister of Energy and Climate Change. Ed Davey, however, has proved to be a strong proponent of nuclear energy.

The charges against Christine Lee come in November, said MI6, head of foreign intelligence Richard Moore. “Highest priority” his agency “To Adapt to a World Affected by the Rise of China”, He also warned against “Massive Espionage Operations” That Chinese services sought to take action against the United Kingdom and its allies.

Rising tensions between London and Beijing

The Chinese embassy in London denied MI5’s allegations, saying: “We do not need and never should ‘buy influence’ in a foreign parliament. » Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin quipped: “Some people may have seen too many OO7 movies. ,

This matter has come to the fore in the context of increased tension between London and Beijing. In recent years, Britain has been tough on China over its repeated attacks on democracy in Hong Kong. Following the implementation of a national security law restricting freedoms, Boris Johnson offered visas to residents of the former British colony. In 2020, the prime minister also opposed the deployment of 5G networks in the UK by Huawei, which angered Xi Jinping.

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

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