This is a warning to democracies. During a press conference on Tuesday in London, Jeremy Fleming, the director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British intelligence and security agency, was alarming about the technological rise of China, a “increasingly urgent problem” for Western countries that must act to protect their “values” and their “influence”.
He accused China of trying to “rewrite the rules of international security”, claiming that Beijing uses its economic and technological power to suppress its activities at home and exert control abroad. Jeremy Fleming pointed out “the way this force [technologique] is being used or misused by the Chinese Communist Party”. A country which is ruled by a single party, gags the freedom of expression of the Chinese, indicated Monday, the GCHQ in an official statement.
“Beidou” and “Yuan”
“Technology has not only become a domain of opportunity, competition and collaboration, but is also the battleground for the control of values and influence”, insisted the head of British intelligence. He notably mentioned the Chinese domination in new technologies, more precisely satellites – with its Beidou navigation system -, and digital currencies, like its “e-yuan” project which was launched in 2014. These systems would also allow China “to obtain an advantage for control of their market, in their sphere of influence, and of course over their own citizens”. The day before in its press release, the GCHQ also specified that such a currency could “Allow China to partially free itself from the type of international sanctions currently in place against the Putin regime in Russia”.
Fleming insisted that the Chinese authorities “see other nations as potential adversaries or potential clients who must be threatened, bought off or coerced”. At the head of the intelligence agency since 2017, he called on Western countries to “to act”, in particular by investing in the technologies of the future, specifying that the United Kingdom has not “no problem with the Chinese people and the Chinese community which contributes enormously to life in the United Kingdom”.
“Alternative, practical and affordable solutions”
As China gradually expands its influence and its own technologies in the world, especially in some developing countries where it is increasing investments, the British official said that Western countries must be able “to offer alternative, practical and affordable solutions”.
These statements have not gone unnoticed in Beijing. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the remarks “had no factual basis”. According to her, “China is developing its finance and technology with the aim of improving the lives of Chinese people. She’s not targeting anyone else and certainly isn’t a threat. Brandishing the theory of any “Chinese threat” and stirring up confrontation and opposition harms oneself and others”.