The story sounds somewhat like a Hollywood movie: a Chinese spy is said to have tried to influence British lawmakers. The woman was politically active for years, she was also awarded a medal.
The British Domestic Intelligence Service has warned Parliament in London about an alleged Chinese spy. British House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle’s office confirmed on Thursday that it had emailed lawmakers about the incident “in consultation with the security services”. According to Home Secretary Priti Patel, one person tried to influence lawmakers “for the Communist Party of China”.
According to Conservative MP Ian Duncan Smith, Hoyle was “contacted by MI5”. He warned lawmakers that “an agent of the Chinese government was active in parliament.”
The alert issued by MI5, quoted by UK media, identifies the suspected agent as Christine Lee. It said it was “involved in deliberate political interference activities on the part of the United Front Labor Department of the Communist Party of China.”
The spy is said to have mediated
According to reports, the London-based lawyer played a facilitating role in “financial contributions to political parties, parliamentarians, potential MPs and those considering political office in the UK”. Lee is said to have donated £200,000 (€239,000) to opposition politician Barry Gardiner and hundreds of thousands to his Labor Party. The money came from foreign nationals from China and Hong Kong.
Lee was apparently well connected to the District of London Government. She was photographed with former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron at an event in 2015 and former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn on another occasion. In 2019, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May awarded Lee with a medal for his contribution to Britain’s good relations with China.
“We strongly oppose bullying in the UK”
The Chinese embassy in London denied the allegations of espionage, saying: “We should not and never should try to buy influence in a foreign parliament”. She said: “We strongly reject the defamation and intimidation of the Chinese community in the UK.”
Barry Gardiner, who has since resigned, said all donations were properly reported. He also revealed that Lee’s son worked for him until his resignation on Thursday.
Conservative MP Duncan Smith expressed concern that Lee would not be arrested, only barred from entering parliament. He also demanded amendment in the rules of parliamentary recognition. Meanwhile, former Defense Secretary Tobias Ellwood said in the House of Commons that the allegations were “a gray area of the kind of interference we now expect from China.”
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