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UK Domestic Spooks to 'Fortify' Businesses Against Chinese and Russian Cyber-Snooping

© AP Photo / Andy WongA video surveillance camera made by China's Hikvision is mounted on top of a street near a advertisement poster in Beijing.
A video surveillance camera made by China's Hikvision is mounted on top of a street near a advertisement poster in Beijing. - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.03.2023
Chinese mobile telecoms giant Huawei and CCTV camera maker Hikvision have already had their hardware banned from UK infrastructure projects and government buildings, but now counter-intelligence agents will 'advise' companies on whether to use their products.
Britain's domestic espionage service will offer its services to firms worried about Chinese and Russian snooping on their activities.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to announce the creation of a "national protective security authority" under the auspices of MI5 — the agency responsible for counter-espionage, counter-terrorism and keeping tabs on 'subversive' political groups.
“As the world becomes more volatile and competition between states becomes more intense, the UK must be ready to stand our ground,” the PM said on Sunday night, during a trip to California's capital San Diego for a defence summit.
“We will fortify our national defences, from economic security to technology supply chains and intelligence expertise, to ensure we are never again vulnerable to the actions of a hostile power,” Sunak added.
The authority will advise UK companies on doing business in China and on buying technology from the east Asian economic giant.
In particular, reports said it was expected to issue guidelines on the use of electronics made by Huawei and Hikvision, two manufacturers which have been singled out for criticisms and allegations by the British and US governments.
Downing Street — reportedly at Washington's insistence — banned Huawei from competing for contracts to build its 5G mobile telecoms network in 2019 over fears that its equipment could contain secret snooping hardware.
And late last year the, Sunak's government banned the installation of CCTV cameras made by Hikvision on government buildings over "the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems" — again following the Pentagon's lead
The budget for language classes in Standard Chinese — commonly known as Mandarin — for diplomats will de doubled. And in a move aimed at other countries, the BBC World Service radio station will get an extra £20 million to continue services in 47 different languages that were set to get the chop.
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Sunak stopped short of calling China a hostile nation, warning Sinophobic Conservative backbenchers that was not a “smart or sophisticated foreign policy.”
But he also called Beijing “the biggest state threat to our economic interests, for sure, adding that it was "a systemic challenge for the world order.”
“The behaviour that we’ve seen in China over recent times is concerning,” the PM said in a TV interview.
"China represents a country that has very different values to ours. It presents an epoch-defining challenge to us and to the global order," Sunak said, when challenged on why he did not call Beijing a 'threat' during the second Conservative Party leadership contest, which saw him take over from hawkish short-lived PM Liz Truss.
"It’s a regime that is increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad and has a desire to reshape the world order. We’ve recognized it as the biggest state-based threat to our economic security."
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