Foreign Secretary Maintains Silence on Alleged China Spy Case Amid Tory Scrutiny


Refusing to confirm or deny whether he engaged with the Chinese government regarding the arrest of a Parliament researcher suspected of espionage, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly kept his cards close to his chest. Both he and the Prime Minister have openly expressed concerns to Chinese leaders regarding their alleged “interference in our democracy”, but specific details remain undisclosed.

The individual in question, accused of spying for China, maintains his innocence. This saga initiated last weekend when the Metropolitan Police reported two arrests in March under the Official Secrets Act. One of these men, sources inform, was found to have been deeply involved in international affairs as a parliamentary researcher.

Avoiding any indication of addressing this issue during his visit to China, the Foreign Secretary fuelled speculation. Silence on the matter extends an invitation for critics to question the government’s resolution. Potential inquirers could emerge from their own ranks, as some party members persist in pressing the leaders to adopt a firmer attitude towards China.

Prominent Tories like former Prime Minister Liz Truss have advocated for officially categorising China as a “threat”- an action the government has thus far avoided. Encountering scrutinisation from his party, Mr Cleverly countered with a pragmatic viewpoint, stating, “Pretending China doesn’t exist is not a credible policy.”

However, he admitted that there were several matters that the UK needed to address with China, such as the latter’s sanctions against British parliamentarians. The best strategy, however, is face-to-face dialogues, he asserted.

In fact, Mr Cleverly was the first Foreign Secretary to visit China in the span of five years, just last month. However, regarding queries about whether he had knowledge of the researcher’s arrest before his trip, he declined to comment. Persistent questioning about whether he discussed the issue with Chinese officials met with a similar response.

The Foreign Secretary then noted that he, alongside Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, had put forth objections about Chinese actions that they believed were attacking or misrepresenting British democracy. This included the Prime Minister’s encounter with Chinese premier Li Qiang at the G20 summit.

Earlier in the week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, criticised Mr Sunak for neglecting to “heed the warnings” about China and called for a comprehensive review of the bilateral ties. China vehemently denied the allegations, with foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning dismissing them as “malicious slander”.

Despite its status as UK’s fourth largest trading partner, Sino-UK relations have been strained in recent years because of disagreements over human rights in Hong Kong, part of the UK’s colonial history, and China’s nonpartisan view on Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.


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