Last Updated on: 11th October 2022, 04:56 pm
China is seeking to use new technologies to repress dissent at home and dominate its adversaries abroad, according to a U.K. intelligence chief.
Jeremy Fleming, head of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), U.K.’s electronic spy agency, said in a scheduled speech that China views technological advances as a “tool to gain advantage through control of their markets, of those in their sphere of influence and of their own citizens.”
Fleming said that China is seeking to develop electric airplanes to compete with regional air carriers, and is also working on artificial intelligence and quantum computing to improve its military capabilities.
Fleming said that GCHQ is working to prevent these technologies from falling into the wrong hands, and is also trying to counter China’s efforts to influence public opinion overseas.
The head of the United Kingdom’s intelligence services has warned that China’s growing strength and fear-driven behavior pose a threat to global security.
In a speech to be delivered on Tuesday at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), MI5 Director-General Andrew Fleming will say that Beijing’s focus on strategically vital technologies is driving it into actions that could represent a “huge threat” to the West.
Fleming will say that how governments respond to China “will define our future” and the scientific and technological community in democratic countries will need to rise to the challenge.
He will cite China’s focus on technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G as reasons for concern.
Since taking office, U.K. spy chief James Bond has warned of the increasing threat that China poses to global security. In a speech at the London School of Economics, Fleming will cite several examples of how China seeks leverage from key technologies or tries to rewrite international standards.
Some of these examples include the centralized digital currency that could “enable China to partially evade the sort of international sanctions currently being applied to [Vladimir] Putin’s regime in Russia,” the buildup of the BeiDou satellite system, which could be used to block adversaries’ access to space, and the concerns that Beijing is building a powerful anti-satellite capability with the potential to track individuals.
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According to Fleming, China’s export of technology is part of an effort to create “client economies and governments” and countries that risk “mortgaging the future” by buying Chinese tech that contains “hidden costs.”
Fleming’s planned speech comes after the head of the FBI and his British counterpart delivered a stark warning in July about the security threat posed by China. Underlying China’s belief in one-party rule and tight state control is “a sense of fear,” Fleming will say. “Fear of its own citizens, of freedom of speech, free trade, open technological standards and alliances — the whole open, democratic order and the international rules-based system.”
If these proposed rules are adopted, they could threaten human rights “by the introduction of new tracking methods,” Fleming warns. “China’s belief in authoritarian control and its aspirations to become a global leader requires it to control information and restrict freedom.”
China has accused the U.S., Britain, and their allies of trying to block China’s rise as a world power and has denied allegations of human rights abuses, or that it seeks to coerce other governments.
Fleming also planned to address Russia’s recent setbacks in its war in Ukraine, saying Moscow’s forces are in a “desperate situation,” according to excerpts from his speech.
“Far from the inevitable Russian military victory that their propaganda machine spouted, it’s clear that Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide,” the excerpts say.
“The costs to Russia — in people and equipment are staggering. We know — and Russian commanders on the ground know — that their supplies and munitions are running out,” he will say. “Russia’s forces are exhausted. The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilization of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation.”