Chinese Geolocating Device Found in UK Govt Car Used to Transport Senior Politicians: Report
A Chinese geolocating tracking device was reportedly discovered in a British government car that would be used by high-level officials including cabinet ministers, raising further concerns about Chinese espionage in the UK.
According to a report from the i newspaper, government cars have been “dismantled surgically down to the last nut and bolt” by intelligence officials after at least one Chinese SIM card with the capability of transmitting location data was found hidden in a car used by senior politicians and diplomats.
A serving member of the British intelligence community told the paper: “It [the tracking SIMs] gives the ability to survey government over a period of months and years, constantly filing movements, constantly building up a rich picture of activity.
“You can do it slowly and methodically over a very, very long time. That’s the vulnerability.”
The SIM card was reportedly put inside a sealed part of the vehicle which was imported from a supplier in China. The paper noted that car manufacturers are reticent to open up such components as it would void the warranty and therefore the geolocation device was left undetected.
A former GCHQ analyst told the paper that it was unlikely that this was a targeted operation focussing on a single politician but rather represented a broad data mining approach by the Chinese Communist Party.
“It’s more about quantity rather than anything specific,” the ex-GCHQ analyst said. “The aim is to put trackers in as many cars as possible and then pinpoint in on sights of interest.”
“If you’re stepping back a bit and saying what cars do park outside GCHQ or somewhere like Porton Down then you have the pool of information there if you ever need it.”
A former senior intelligence officer also claimed that the threat of Chinese technology is potentially huge, noting: “Can the Chinese track our politicians if they want to? Yes. Can the Russians track our politicians if they want to? Yes. Can they listen to what they’re up to in the cars? If they’re tracking them, and they want to do that, of course they can.”
The report comes just days after the UK’s independent ‘snooping’ watchdog, Fraser Sampson warned that over one in three police forces in Britain are using Chinese surveillance technology with potential backdoors for the communist government, therefore representing a security threat to the country. Earlier this year, the same watchdog claimed that some Chinese-made surveillance cameras in the UK were equipt with hidden microphones that could be remotely activated.
In addition to concerns about technology from China being used as a means of espionage, the CCP has also been accused more traditional spying. Last year, the MI5 intelligence agency claimed that Christine Lee, the founder of the British Chinese Project, was operating in Westminster as a spy for Beijing. She was also alleged to have heavily donated to the left-wing Labour Party.
Commenting on the Chinese allegedly installing tracking devices in British government cars, former Conservative Party leader and founding member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “I don’t know how much more the UK needs to know about the threat China poses to us all.
“Surely it is time to change the integrated review and refer to China as a systemic threat.”
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in London dismissed the claims as a smear intended to reduce trade with Beijing, saying: “We are firmly opposed to political manipulation on normal economic and trade cooperation or any smear on Chinese enterprises.
“The Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies to carry out foreign trade and investment cooperation in line with local laws as well as market principles and international directions. We are firmly against some people’s moves to deliberately overstretch the concept of national security to wear down Chinese enterprises.
“Smearing and suppressing Chinese enterprises and pushing for decoupling and disrupting industrial and supply chains not only seriously undermines international trade rules, but will fragment the global market, and sabotage the security and stability of global industrial and supply chains.”