China’s prime safety ministry accused Britain’s MI6 intelligence company on Monday of persuading a married couple working for unnamed central Chinese language authorities our bodies to develop into spies for the British authorities, the most recent in a volley of continuous espionage accusations between the 2 international locations.

In a submit on its official WeChat account, China’s Ministry of State Safety stated MI6 British intelligence officers had lured a person with the surname Wang, who labored for a Chinese language authorities company with part-time consulting work that paid him a excessive wage throughout his go to to Britain as a part of an alternate program.

The Chinese language ministry stated MI6 skilled Mr. Wang to develop into a spy and ordered him to return to China to collect intelligence. It stated that his spouse, who has the surname Zhou, additionally agreed to spy for Britain. China stated the matter was underneath additional investigation, however it isn’t clear whether or not the couple are being detained by the Chinese language authorities.

That is the most recent in a sequence of back-and-forth espionage accusations between Beijing and London, a supply of escalating rigidity between the 2 international locations.

Final month, three men in Britain were charged with gathering intelligence for Hong Kong, a former British colony now underneath Chinese language rule, to pursue pro-democracy activists residing in Britain.

China has condemned these newest accusations. It stated that Britain had leveled a sequence of “groundless and slanderous” accusations of spying and cyberattacks towards Beijing.

In March, the British authorities accused China of cyberattacks that compromised the voting data of tens of thousands and thousands of individuals. It additionally charged two males, who have been arrested final 12 months, with spying for China. One of many males worked as a researcher in Parliament alongside distinguished lawmakers, on China coverage.

On this newest accusation of espionage, China stated MI6 began courting Mr. Wang in 2015 when he utilized to check in Britain as a part of an alternate program. It stated that MI6 took “particular care of him” and discovered that he had “a powerful need for cash.”

After overpaying him for consulting work, the British brokers revealed their true intention to Mr. Wang, the Ministry of State Safety stated. MI6 compelled Mr. Wang to lure his spouse, who labored in “a core and essential unit” of the Chinese language authorities, into the operation and promised to pay them twice as a lot, China stated.

For its half, Beijing has lodged its personal accusations of British spying. In January, China’s State Safety Ministry stated it had detained the top of an abroad consulting company for working as a spy for the British authorities to gather state secrets and techniques. The company stated that British intelligence had recruited and skilled the person, who’s from an unspecified “third nation” in the UK and different locations. This particular person offered the British authorities with 14 state secrets and techniques, the ministry stated.

These accusations are exhausting to confirm as a result of there may be little element past the morsels of knowledge offered by Chinese language safety companies, and espionage circumstances are usually not open to the general public in China.

China’s state safety has develop into more and more vocal about the specter of espionage by means of consultancy work. It has been imploring its residents by means of social media posts and on-line comics to be vigilant concerning the hidden dangers.

The ministry launched a comic book this 12 months based mostly on what it referred to as an precise espionage investigation by a particular state safety official who went undercover to infiltrate a consulting firm whose proprietor was an “affiliate” of a international spy. This official discovered proof that this firm was illegally contacting consultants in delicate industries.

Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, stated verifying the MI6 case, like China’s earlier accusation, was near inconceivable as a result of the Chinese language reveal solely a minimal quantity of element and British intelligence was unlikely to substantiate or deny the allegation.

He famous that rigidity between China and Britain was “larger than it has been for some time,” particularly after the latest arrests. Mr. Tsang stated it was not clear whether or not this was retribution or simply extra of China’s latest “paranoia” about international espionage.

On Monday, Mao Ning, a spokeswoman at China’s Ministry of International Affairs, stated she had no extra details about the case. A Downing Road spokesman declined to touch upon China’s claims.

Stephen Citadel contributed reporting.

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