The experts fear that the CCP is also employing such "honey trap" female agents to steal secrets from the British government in a bid to advance their political and economic goals in the U.K. The Security Service, MI5, also determined that the communist state has become a bigger espionage threat to Britain since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honey trap is a stratagem where a person lures another person into revealing information or doing something unwise. Chinese honey trap agents are believed to be attractive women who attended top universities and speak fluent English. They use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to connect with their targets, including high-profile politicians, aides, staffers and even interns.
Fang is accused to be a honey trap agent for Beijing who targeted politicians from 2011 to 2015. The suspected Chinese spy took part in fundraising activities for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign and reportedly had an intimate relationship with the congressman. Swalwell, a member of the Democratic Party, cut off ties with Fang after being alerted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2015. Fang immediately fled the United States amid the FBI probe.
Anthony Glees of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham suspects that China is conducting the same sort of operations in the U.K. "We must assume the Chinese are doing the same thing here, using cash and sex to get agents into areas of interest to them," Glees said.
Sam Armstrong, director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based foreign and security policy think tank, is also convinced that China's honey trap schemes have reached British shores. "We are no-less valuable a target for intelligence to China than the U.S. is, and if it's in their toolbox to use a certain tactic, they will use it there and they will use here," explained Armstrong. (Related: Pinkerton: What happens when a communist regime penetrates our government.)
The MI5 previously warned the British government about Chinese honey traps in the country. And in October this year, MI5 chief Ken McCallum stated that surveillance threats posed by China to the U.K. are "growing in severity and complexity." McCallum suspects that Beijing is beginning to interfere with British politics following accusations against a former MI6 agent that he sold classified information to Beijing undercover operatives.
Clive Hamilton, professor of ethics at Charles Sturt University in Australia, thinks that the CCP is looking to exploit Britain's vulnerable position once it chooses a no-deal Brexit with the European Union. Hamilton claims that China will pull any "dirty trick" at their disposal, such as the "race card, espionage and honey traps," to reach a free trade agreement with the U.K.
Due to these concerns, members of the Parliament (MP) are now more cautious than ever. "We should be concerned. Because of the UK's global status, people here could potentially be targets," said Conservative MP Bob Seely. But addressing the issue will be quite tricky because the communist state is a powerful nation that Britain cannot cease trading with, Seely added.
But CCP critic Benedict Rogers, founder of the Conservative Party's human rights commission, warned that various nations have been approaching China's political maneuvers with "naivety and kowtowing." He urged western nations to take a firmer stand to combat a "particularly angry and aggressive" China. (Related: Chinese authorities hid the fact that medical staff in coronavirus-hit city were infected.)
"The reality is China is not behaving like a friendly state at the moment, it is behaving like a hostile state," said Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The MP bared that while the MI5 and the police are working to detect suspicious Chinese activity, "it is really difficult – and most of it is down to judgement."
Armstrong also stated that agencies "rarely" uncover intelligence operations: "The mark of a successful [intel operation] is you don't know about it."
Last week, leaked documents obtained by the Australian revealed that nearly two million CCP members have infiltrated British consulates, universities and leading British companies. The members, who swore a solemn oath to be "loyal to the Party," are working at firms like AstraZeneca, Rolls Royce and HSBC. It is still unclear whether any of them are active spies.
Read more reports about China's worldwide espionage operations at Surveillance.news.