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A suspected Chinese agent who was targeting MPs is “the tip of the iceberg”, says Iain Duncan Smith.
The senior Tory MP said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) trying to "persuade and infiltrate and subvert people within our political system" was "nothing new at all" and insisted "too many governments seem too cautious about calling it out".
Appearing on Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, Sir Iain was asked about the urgent alert issued by MI5 last week that said Christine Lee - a prominent UK-based solicitor - had been engaged in "political interference activities" on behalf of China's ruling communist regime.
He said: "We seem to want to kowtow to them too often and that's dangerous and you have seen the results of that and this is just the tip of the iceberg, I can promise you."
Sir Iain noted "we are not dealing with a European regime or an American regime which is democratic and accountable" but this was a "brutal, disgusting regime", adding: "What they're after is making sure there can be no criticism of them so they can break every rule that they wish."
The former Conservative leader added that whether or not Covid-19 came from a laboratory in Wuhan, as has been speculated, Chinese officials "refused to let the world know of the scale of the problem they had until very late on".
He said: "The result is that has spread around the world, so when you're dealing with a regime like this, that doesn't tell the truth, that doesn't open up then ... you know, millions have died as a result of that, so we can't just treat the Chinese government as any other government.
“When they start infiltrating, when they start subverting Parliament and when they start paying people off, we have got to be much, much more brutal about it.”
In the Security Service Interference Alert (SSIA) sent to MPs and peers, MI5 said Ms Lee "acted covertly" in coordination with the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the CCP.
It said she had been "engaged in the facilitation of 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 Chinese embassy rejected the claims, accusing the authorities of "smearing and intimidation" against the Chinese community in the UK. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the British were "too obsessed with James Bond movies".
In a statement, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy said: "China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other country's internal affairs.
"We have no need and never seek to 'buy influence' in any foreign parliament. We firmly oppose the trick of smearing and intimidation against the Chinese community in the UK."