China denies its technological advances are a global threat

Britain's GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming says Beijing is trying to dominate strategic technologies
By RFA Staff
2022.10.12
China denies its technological advances are a global threat GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming delivered the 2022 RUSI Annual Security Lecture, Oct.11, 2022.
RUSI

China has rejected warnings from Britain's cyber spy chief that Beijing’s exploitation of important technologies is threatening global security, with a Chinese media outlet claiming GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming “talked rubbish.”

GCHQ or the Government Communications Headquarters is the British government’s cyber intelligence agency.

During an annual security lecture at the RUSI defense and security think tank on Tuesday, Fleming said China’s leadership is using its financial and scientific muscle in a bid to dominate strategically important technologies, from digital currencies to satellite technology.

Yet the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) fear of its own citizens and the international rules-based system, combined with the country’s great strength “is driving China into actions that could represent a huge threat to us all,” he warned.

“And we’re seeing that fear play out through the manipulation of the technological ecosystems which underpin our everyday lives – from monitoring its own citizens and restricting free speech to influencing financial systems and new domains,” Fleming said.

The U.K. spy chief gave several examples, such as Central Bank Digital Currencies, which could allow the state to monitor transactions of its citizens and companies, and the BeiDou satellite system that could be used to track individuals.

Even before the GCHQ head delivered his speech, Beijing already rejected his remarks, saying they “have no factual basis at all.”

“China’s technological development is aimed at making lives better for the Chinese people,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters at a regular briefing.

“It does not target anyone, still less pose any threat. Subscribing to the so-called ‘China threat’ and stoking confrontation benefits no one and will eventually backfire,” she added.

BEIDOU.jpg
A model of the BeiDou navigation satellite system is seen at an exhibition to mark China's Space Day 2019 in Hunan province, Apr. 23, 2019. CREDIT: Aly Song/Reuters

China designated a threat to Britain

Fleming also warned that China is seeking to create “client economies and governments” around the world.

He said some countries risk “mortgaging the future” by buying-in Chinese technology.

Spokeswoman Mao Ning hit back saying “that is also a baseless allegation.”

“China does not force anyone into anything,” she said.

An opinion piece in the Global Times, sister publication of the CCP mouthpiece People's Daily, said Fleming’s warnings about China were “utter nonsense.”

The U.K. spy chief and people like him, as they “desperately badmouthed China's use of technology”, were “losing their dignity and revealing their true hooligan nature,” the paper said.

Meanwhile Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that a special China strategy review by Liz Truss’s government, which is now being brought forward, would formally designate China as a “threat” to Britain, a notch up from a “systemic competitor” under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  

This would see the U.K.’s official position towards China close to its stance on Russia. Moscow is currently classed as “the most acute threat” to Britain.

The Guardian quoted an unnamed source as saying that the change could come “within days”.

In July, the heads of U.S. and U.K. security agencies together warned about China’s hacking and economic espionage, which they called “the most game-changing challenge we face.”

FBI director Christopher Wray said Beijing was “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”

MI5 Director General Ken McCallum meanwhile disclosed that his agency “has already more than doubled” the effort against Chinese activity of concern in the last three years.

China retaliated by saying that “concocting ‘China technological threat’ theory has become one of the priorities of British and U.S. intelligence agencies” in order to secure funding and obtain private interests.

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