China dismisses British accusation of political interference

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  • Wang Wenbin
    Chinese diplomat
  • Lindsay Hoyle
    British politician (born 1957)

BEIJING (AP) — China on Friday dismissed a warning from Britain’s domestic intelligence service to lawmakers that a London-based lawyer is trying to “covertly interfere in U.K. politics” on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party as “irresponsible.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China has “no need to and will never engage in the so-called interference,” saying those behind the accusation “may be too obsessed with James Bond 007 movies and made some unnecessary associations.”

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle on Thursday sent legislators an alert from the MI5 spy agency alleging that the lawyer, Christine Lee, was acting in coordination with the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, an organization dedicated to exerting Chinese influence abroad.

MI5 said Lee had “facilitated” donations to British political parties and legislators “on behalf of foreign nationals.” Members of Parliament are required to declare the source of donations they receive, which must be from U.K.-registered electors or entities.

Lee is not accused of a criminal offense.

Lee’s firm, Christine Lee & Co., states on its website that it has “developed strong affiliations between the U.K. and China” and has advised the Chinese Embassy in London on legal matters. It has offices in the U.K. and China and practices immigration, corporate and commercial law, according to the website.

Lee’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tensions between Britain and China have risen over accusations of economic subterfuge, human rights abuses and Beijing's crackdown on civil liberties in the former British colony of Hong Kong.

In November the head of the MI6 overseas intelligence agency, Richard Moore, called China one of the biggest threats to Britain and its allies.

China has repeatedly criticized what it calls British interference in its internal affairs and denied meddling in the politics of foreign nations.

Speaking at a daily briefing, Wang said China hoped the “relevant British official will refrain from making groundless allegations and hyping the China threat to serve (the government's) ulterior motives."

“It is highly irresponsible to make sensational remarks based on hearsay evidence and certain individual’s conjecture," Wang said.

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