Britain's MI5 warns lawmakers of Chinese influence

Britain’s spy service MI5 warned Parliament that the Chinese government has deployed a woman to exert improper influence over its members.

MI5 on Thursday sent out an alert with a picture of the woman named Christine Lee, alleging she has interfered in UK politics on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.

An MI5 spokesperson, Lindsay Hoyle, said they’ve discovered Lee has "facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China."

Britain’s interior minister told reporters that Lee’s behavior wasn’t currently unlawful, but added the alert was necessary to warn lawmakers about her attempts to influence them.

Lee is the founder of a law firm with offices in London and Birmingham and one of its stated purposes online was to advise the Chinese embassy in Britain, according to a government official.

Requests for comment have been denied or left unanswered.

The Chinese embassy in London said in a statement that China does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, adding "We firmly oppose the trick of smearing and intimidation against the Chinese community in the UK."

An opposition Labour party lawmaker, Barry Gardiner, said he had received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from Lee and that he had been liaising with intelligence services about her.

Britain's relations with China have deteriorated in recent years over issues including Hong Kong and the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Last year, MI5 urged Britain to treat the threat of spying from Russia, China and Iran as seriously as terrorism.

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