Beijing hits back at UK spy claims: no meddling

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 10:31am

The Foreign Ministry has reiterated that Beijing will not allow external forces to interfere in Hong Kong's internal affairs or damage the city's prosperity and stability.

The ministry was responding to reports that the British intelligence agency has been stepping up spying activities in China since it resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997.

Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told media yesterday that Beijing would not allow any external forces to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs or damage its prosperity and stability.

Hong said: "China has the ability and determination to safeguard national security."

Two commentaries appeared in the pro-Beijing newspapers Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po on Monday, alleging that British intelligence agency MI5 had strengthened its presence in Hong Kong since the handover.

Both articles claimed British spying activities in the city had not stopped after 1997 but increased. They alleged many retired and serving MI6 agents were working as consular and cultural staff, and in business.

They went on to say that the spying agency had its headquarters in the consulate general, which was built in 1996 by a British architect who also designed the MI6 building in London.

The Wen Wei Po commentary claimed that many MI6 special agents had returned to Hong Kong in the 16 years since the handover. It said these agents had infiltrated political parties, the judiciary, business chambers, the media and key government departments.

On Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Hong Kong and the Global Times newspaper all rounded on British foreign office minister Hugo Swire for his remarks at the weekend that it was important for local voters to have genuine choice on the road to democratisation.

Beijing's vigorous reaction added to the double dose of rebuffs delivered by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor over the weekend.