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MI6 chief warns of security threat from China ‘miscalculation’

The head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service has warned that China’s overconfidence and reliance on its anti-Western propaganda has put Beijing at risk of “miscalculation” that could threaten international security. .

Richard Moore said adapting to a world dominated by the rise of China is now the “biggest priority” for his spy agency, also known as MI6, in his first public address. of him since assuming the role a year ago.

“Chinese intelligence agencies are highly capable and continue to conduct large-scale espionage operations against the UK and our allies,” said Moore, who is also known by the code name “” C,” told an audience in London on Tuesday. “Beijing’s growing military power and [Chinese Communist] The desire of the parties to resolve the Taiwan issue, by force if necessary, also poses a serious challenge to global peace and stability.

The comments mark a striking shift from the British government previous hesitation in dealing with the threat posed by China. The Joint Review of Defense and Security Policy, published earlier this year, highlights the “tilt” in defense priorities towards Asia but also emphasizes that Britain will seek “links”. deeper trade and more investment from China.”

However, on Tuesday, Moore accused Beijing of trying to “distort public discourse and political decision-making” and said China was exporting technology that created a “network of control.” dictatorship” around the world.

“The leadership of the Communist Party of China is increasingly advocating bold and decisive actions, especially for reasons of national security,” he said. “Beijing believes in its own propaganda about the weaknesses of the West and underestimates Washington’s resolve. The risk of China’s miscalculation through overconfidence is real.”

While the police chief has not directly linked his miscalculated comments to Taiwan, Western security and defense leaders are increasingly concerned about the determination to “unify” the island that President Xi Jinping has made. China considers part of his country’s sovereign territory – with the mainland during his leadership.

Moore also warned of Beijing’s efforts to establish what he called “Debt Trap and Data” for other countries, which he said could increase their vulnerability to political coercion. Sri Lanka was forced to hand over its strategic Hambanota port to China in 2017, due to its inability to repay debts from Chinese state-controlled entities used to finance port development. .

In an interview shortly before the speech, the head of the spy agency expressed concern that Beijing was seeking to “collect data from around the world” through surveillance technology. “If you allow another country access to data that is really important about your society then over time that will erode your sovereignty, you will no longer have control over that data.” , Moore told the BBC. “It’s something that in the UK we’re very alive and we’ve taken various measures to protect against.”

He argued in the speech that MI6 would have to give up some of its traditional secrets and seek help from tech companies to compete with the rise of artificial intelligence and quantum computing. being exploited by competitors.

In a direct warning to Moscow, he said it was necessary to “be certain of the support of our allies for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. His comments echoed those of NATO foreign ministers, including the UK’s Liz Truss, attending a summit in Latvia to discuss the concentration of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine. .

On the prospect of fighting international terrorism, he said the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan had created a “spiritual boost” for the militants. “I’m not going to soften it: The threat we face is likely to grow once we’ve left Afghanistan.”

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