How much of a security threat does China pose according to MI6?

China’s consistency in its anti-western propaganda has put Beijing at risk of “miscalculation” over Taiwan - this could potentially threaten international security, which the head of MI6 has warned.

While Moore did not link his miscalculation comments directly to Taiwan, western defence and security officials are concerned about Xi Jinping’s stated determination to reunify the island with China. This remains one of the biggest tensions between China and the west.

Richard Moore stated that adapting to China’s rising domination was the “single greatest priority” for his spy agency, over a year ago. He justified his actions about speaking out against China to the British public by notifying the public that the Chinese intelligence services (MSS) are highly capable of conducting large-scale espionage operations against the UK and our allies- which would inevitably harm the UK.

China is slowly becoming a militarized state as we see Beijing’s military strength being on the rise and the Chinese communist party longing to resolve the Taiwan issue, with all means necessary (military force), which then poses a challenge to global stability and peace.

So why did the UK's most secret service speak publicly about this?

The change in the UK’s thought is because of their review of defence and security policy which was published earlier this year. This stated a “tilt” in defence priorities towards Asia but also stressed that Britain would be seeking “deeper trade links and more Chinese investment”.

This can only be seen as a strategic move by MI6 and the British government, who are aware of the threat that China imposes on the world and how much hegemonic power they have. The motivation to speak out would be seen as an attempt to try to come to a resolution peacefully.

Moore suggests that the biggest threat is that “Beijing believes its own propaganda about western frailties and underestimates Washington’s resolve. The risk of Chinese miscalculation through overconfidence is real”.

Is Beijing also involved in political coercion?

It has been reported that Beijing's vulnerability to political coercion may have also increased due to the fact they have attempted to set “debt and data traps” for other countries.

Sri Lanka was forced to hand over their strategic port of Hambantota to China in 2017, as they were unable to repay debts from Chinese state-controlled entities that were used to finance this port development.

As the world is becoming more globalised, the head of MI6 emphasised its concern that Beijing was seeking to harvest data from around the world via surveillance technology which would now be easily accessible to HICs like China due to increased shared technology between states.

This puts the UK at risk of China gaining access to critical information about our society leading to an erosion of our sovereignty - we will lose control of the data, which is what the MI6 attempts to defend against. MI6 has a clear agenda of maintaining the UK’s internal sovereignty.

But as we know China is a heavily armed, rising state and the MI6 can’t defend by itself, so they will have to give up some of its traditional secrecy and seek help from tech companies in order to compete with developments in AI and quantum computing.

This speech was a clear attempt to try and dissolve matters with China. However, with China being a clear hegemonic power, it has majority control over these negotiations with the UK and its allies.


Written by Rohan Dhir

Researched by Hugo Denage


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