Former MPs, civil servants and military personnel should not work with Chinese firms amid concerns over the “threat” that Beijing poses to the UK, the Government has warned.
The alert comes as a report alleged that the Communist superpower tried to headhunt Britons in key roles as part of its spy operations.
Chinese intelligence service personnel target Britain both “prolifically and aggressively”, the landmark paper on China by Parliament’s spy agency watchdog said.
Home Office minister Chris Philp said people with sensitive knowledge and experience should be cautious.
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He told Times Radio: “China does pose a threat. They’re obviously engaging – not just in the UK but across many countries in the West – a systematic campaign of intellectual property theft and attempting to inveigle themselves into public life. It is of concern, a huge concern.” He said ministers have acted to protect UK interests, such as removing Huawei gear from telecommunications networks.
Mr Philp added: “We need to be extremely vigilant. Individuals who have worked in the public sector – whether a civil servant, in the military or frankly people who have been involved in politics as well – need to be, I would say to put it mildly, exceptionally cautious and frankly should not really…be working with sort of organs of the Chinese state after they leave public service.”
MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee said Beijing has tried to hire ex-political figures for lucrative roles to strengthen its influence. Downing Street aides said there were “significant rules and protections” in place.
Rishi Sunak has faced pressure to toughen his stance on Beijing since a Parliamentary researcher was held on suspicion of spying for China – which he denies.
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