Tensions between China and UK: Beijing accuses couple of working for regime of spying for London

Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony for Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 31, 2024. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/Pool

Beijing made the accusation on Monday Two Chinese nationals spied for EnglandIn the latest test of the increasingly fragile relationship between the two countries.

In a social media message on Monday, the Ministry of State Security – China's main intelligence agency – said it had uncovered a major espionage case involving a couple identified only by the surnames Wang and Zhou. Reportedly recruited by MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency.

The ministry described Wang as a student in the United Kingdom in 2015 and later joined by his wife. Wang received hotel rooms, trips around the country and financial incentives, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, the couple worked for the Chinese government at a “state central agency” and handled government secrets. Later handed over to MI6. No information was provided on what specific information the couple may have provided. The ministry added that the case is under investigation and did not specify the whereabouts of the couple.

Dave Pares, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said: “Britain has a long-standing policy of not commenting on the activities of our intelligence agencies.”

The charges follow recent indictments by British prosecutors against several people who allegedly spied for Chinese officials.

The United Kingdom announced last month that two men will stand trial on suspicion of collecting sensitive information for Hong Kong authorities between late 2023 and May 2. A third suspect, Briton Matthew Trickett, was also charged in the case but was found dead in a park.

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In another ongoing court case, two people, including a UK parliamentary investigator, were recently accused of spying for China in London.

China and the United Kingdom have clashed over Beijing's campaign against free speech and open elections in Hong Kong, a former British territory that was guaranteed economic and political freedoms for 50 years when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

(With information from AP)

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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