Tuesday, May 21, 2024

China denounces UK’s spying accusation on three Hong Kong nationals

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China has rebuked the UK’s charges against three Hong Kong nationals, accused of aiding Hong Kong’s intelligence services by spying on pro-democracy Hong Kongers in the UK, condemning it as “unwarranted”. 

The trio, Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, Matthew Trickett, and Chung Biu Yuen, faced charges, which China said are fabricated by the European nation.

The men, including two with affiliations to British government bodies, were apprehended after an investigation by counter-terror police. Now, allegations of espionage and foreign interference have heightened diplomatic tensions between the two nations.

During the court appearance, the three individuals, dressed in grey tracksuits, confirmed their identities and addresses. Wai, employed by the UK’s Border Force and as a volunteer special constable with the City of London Police, allegedly conducted surveillance on pro-democracy Hong Kongers for the intelligence service.

Trickett, a former Royal Marines commando now working in Home Office immigration enforcement, was also implicated. The last one is Yuen – a retired Hong Kong police officer working as a trade official in London – completes the trio accused of spying activities.

The Chinese embassy in London “strongly condemns the UK’s unwarranted accusation against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.”

The arrests were made under the National Security Act. The National Security Act, enacted to safeguard democratic institutions, empowers the UK to counter foreign intelligence services and hostile actors.

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Security Minister Tom Tugendhat reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to defending its citizens and national security against such threats.  “We will not tolerate attempts to threaten, harass or silence people in the UK,” he said. 

“Our commitment to defending the rights and freedoms we hold dear is absolute. We will continue to put protecting the British people and our national security first.” 

The escalating tensions mark a shift from the once-touted “Golden Age” in Sino-British relations. 

‘No wider threat’ 

Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command Commander Dominic Murphy said, “While these offences are concerning, I want to reassure the public that we do not believe there to be any wider threat to them.” “A number of arrests were made and searches carried out across England as part of this investigation.”

(With inputs from agencies)

Heena Sharma

Heena Sharma is a digital journalist who writes mostly on current geopolitical developments. @HeenaSharma0819

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