China detains foreign consultant spying for UK’s MI6

China’s spy agency detained the head of an overseas consulting firm for allegedly conducting espionage on the Asian nation for the UK, renewing focus on an industry that was a target of Beijing’s anti-spying scrutiny.
The Chinese ministry of state security said Monday the MI6 intelligence service employed the consultant from a “third country” to carry out espionage activities. The alleged spy, surnamed Huang, provided the UK with state secrets and intelligence, according to the ministry’s official WeChat account.
The MSS’s statement didn’t identify any firms or Huang’s nationality. The British embassy in Beijing didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Chinese agency said MI6 approached Huang in 2015 for intelligence cooperation, directing the consultant to travel to China multiple times, collect intelligence and identify potential assets. The UK spying agency trained and equipped the person to carry out espionage, the MSS said.
This is the first time the MSS alleged British spying on its WeChat account since it was opened in August. The ministry has previously provided details on alleged spies for US authorities.
The investigation underscores Beijing’s continued scrutiny on the consulting sector, which over the past year has been subject to an anti-espionage crackdown and frequently accused by the MSS of leaking classified information.
Security officials visited and searched expert-research company Capvision’s office in Shanghai in May, accusing the company of abetting espionage efforts by foreign entities. The Chinese authorities in August fined US due diligence firm Mintz Group for illegal data collection, months after officials raided its offices in Beijing and detained five of its Chinese employees.
In April, American consultancy Bain & Co said Chinese authorities had questioned staff at its Shanghai office.
China’s powerful spy agency is usually secretive about its work but has taken a more public profile recently. Beijing has ratcheted up efforts to crack down on spying and adopted a new counter-espionage law that came into effect last year. That legislation expands the list of activities that could be considered spying, intensifying the risks for foreign firms.
The MSS said it has arranged for consular visits after enforcing criminal measures on Huang.
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