The United Kingdom’s domestic spy agency has warned British lawmakers that a woman connected to the Chinese Communist Party has been working to interfere in the UK political process.
MI5 alleges in an alert that Christine Ching Kui Lee has “acted covertly in coordination” with the United Front Work Department (UFWD), of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is “judged to be involved in political interference activities in the UK.”
The MI5 “interference alert,” obtained by CNN on Thursday, said: “We judge that the UFWD is seeking to covertly interfere in UK politics through establishing links with established and aspiring Parliamentarians across the political spectrum.”
The alert also added that Lee has been facilitating “financial donations to political parties, Parliamentarians, aspiring Parliamentarians and individuals seeking political office in the UK, including facilitating donations to political entities on behalf of foreign nationals.”
The UK Company Register lists Lee as a British citizen.
MI5 said that while Lee has said her UK-based activities are “to represent the UK Chinese community and increase diversity,” that those activities have “been undertaken in covert coordination with the UFWD, with funding provided by foreign nationals located in China and Hong Kong.”
CNN has contacted Lee for comment but has not received a reply.
When CNN visited Lee’s offices Thursday, they were empty and appeared so for some time. A note on the door said the office had been shut due to the pandemic. No one answered the door or phone number posted on the door and an email to the generic office address advertised was not replied to.
Ian Duncan Smith, a senior British lawmaker and former leader of the ruling Conservative Party, raised the alarm in Parliament on Thursday, saying that MI5 had warned House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle that an “agent of the Chinese government” has been actively working to “subvert” the processes of Parliament.
“This is a matter of grave concern,” Duncan Smith said.
Lee is extensively connected to “individuals across the UK political spectrum, including through the now-disbanded All-Party Parliamentary Chinese in Britain Group, and they may aspire to establish further APPGs to further the CCP’s agenda,” MI5 said.
CNN has reached out to the Chinese embassy in London for comment.
Duncan Smith asked that, in light of the incident, parliament consider beefing up security and deport the Chinese agent. Duncan Smith said he heard the individual would not be deported and questioned why further action would not be taken against “an agent of a foreign despotic and despicable power.”
Duncan Smith is a vocal critic of the Chinese government. He was sanctioned by Beijing last year for his comments on the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and is barred from entering the country. Chinese businesses and citizens are also prohibited from doing business with him.
“This is surely not good enough,” Duncan Smith said on Thursday.
MI5 said that anyone who has been contacted by Lee “should be mindful of her affiliation with the Chinese state and remit to advance the CCP’s agenda in UK politics,” and to contact the Parliamentary Security Director if they received “concerning or suspicious contact.”