Foreign Secretary Dodges Questions on ‘Chinese Spy’ Arrest in Beijing

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly faced persistent questioning but declined to confirm whether he discussed the arrest of a parliamentary researcher accused of espionage for China during his meetings with officials in Beijing.

The Arrests:
In March, Scotland Yard arrested a parliamentary researcher in his 20s in Edinburgh, while another individual in his 30s was apprehended in Oxfordshire. Both suspects faced allegations under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911, a statute aimed at penalising activities deemed detrimental to the nation’s safety and interests.

Cleverly’s Evasive Stance:
During an interview with BBC One’s “Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg,” Mr Cleverly repeatedly emphasised the government’s policy of not commenting on intelligence or security-related matters. He did, however, acknowledge that both he and the Prime Minister had addressed concerns with Chinese authorities regarding actions perceived as undermining or distorting the UK’s democracy.

Consistent Refusal to Comment:
Despite persistent queries, Mr. Cleverly maintained his refusal to comment on the matter, aligning with the government’s policy of non-disclosure on security issues.

Maintaining Diplomatic Ties:
The Foreign Secretary emphasised the importance of continuing diplomatic relations with China, despite acknowledging the complexity of the relationship. He argued that maintaining face-to-face communications was vital in such challenging diplomatic scenarios.

International Concerns:
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had also raised concerns with Chinese Premier Li Qiang during the G20 summit, in line with the UK’s stance against interference in its democratic processes.

Links to Senior Tories:
The researcher who was detained knew top Conservative Party figures like Alicia Kearns, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and security minister Tom Tugendhat.

Researcher’s Response:
In a statement issued through legal representatives, the 28-year-old researcher, who has not been officially identified by authorities, vehemently denied the allegations, calling them misreporting,” and stressed his commitment to educating others about the challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Chinese Embassy’s Denial:
A spokesperson from the Chinese embassy vehemently denied allegations of espionage, dismissing them as “completely fabricated” and “malicious slander.” The embassy urged relevant UK parties to cease what it termed “anti-China political manipulation.”

The Foreign Secretary’s refusal to confirm discussions regarding the alleged Chinese spy’s arrest during his Beijing visit underscores the government’s stance of non-disclosure on security matters. The case continues to raise international concerns and underscores the delicate nature of UK-China relations.

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