United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has accused China of meddling in Britain’s democracy as he faces a government split at home over whether to formally designate China a threat to national security. Sunak “confronted” Chinese premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the G20 summit in its final session on Sunday morning.
Speaking afterwards, Sunak told broadcasters in New Delhi that he had raised his “very strong concern” about interference with parliamentary democracy, which he said was “obviously unacceptable.” It was the “right approach” to talk face-to-face with China’s premier, he said.
The accusation, made to Li on Sunday, comes in the wake of a Sunday Times report that a parliamentary researcher had been arrested on spying charges. Police have confirmed that two men, one in his 20s and another in his 30s, were arrested under the Official Secrets Act in March, according to British media reports.
The arrests underscore heightened concerns in Western democracies over China’s infiltrating espionage maneuvers in leading Western economies such as the U.S., Canada and Australia, as the rift between the two sides widened. China has denied such claims.
Earlier this year Sunak was accused of being too `soft” on China for failing to shut down Communist Party-backed Confucius Institutes on university campuses and as concerns mounted over Chinese Communist Party infiltration of all aspects of British life.
Last year the British government pledged to be more vigilant against creeping Chinese infiltration amid a global investigation into Chinese police-run “overseas service centers,” some of which have been ordered to shut down by foreign governments for operating outside of diplomatic channels
“Chinese Communist Party aggression is global,” U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher warned earlier this year while leading a bipartisan congressional delegation in London.
“The United States and United Kingdom face common economic, military and ideological threats posed by the CCP,” according to comments retweeted by the official X account of the Select Committee on the CCP, which he chairs.