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by Staff reporter
11 September 2023
Sunak under pressure to designate China as a threat after 'spy' arrests

Rishi Sunak holds a huddle with political journalists on his way to the G20 in India

Sunak under pressure to designate China as a threat after 'spy' arrests

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure to take action against Beijing after a Scot was arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

A former parliamentary researcher from Edinburgh, has been named in reports as one of two men arrested under the Official Secrets Act.

The arrest happened in March but emerged over the weekend, when Sunak was in India for the G20 summit. He is reported to have confronted Chinese premier Li Qiang over "unacceptable" interference.

The ex-researcher is said to have had links with senior Conservatives including security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns.

It is understood that Tugendhat, who is yet to comment, is now amongst MPs pushing Sunak to take a tougher stance over Beijing and redesignate China as a threat.

If that happened, those working "at the direction" of China or a state-linked company would be required to register and disclose their activities or risk imprisonment.

Ex-Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the UK's current position on China is "weak" and as a result that country is "penetrating all our institutions from universities to parliament".

He told the PA news agency that it is "time to speak through strength not weakness".

Sunak told the media he raised "very strong concerns about interference in our parliamentary democracy, which is obviously unacceptable", with Li. He said: "There's no point carping from the sidelines. I'd rather be in there directly expressing my concerns, and that's what I did today."

On Saturday the Metropolitan Police said: "A man in his 30s was arrested at an address in Oxfordshire and a man in his 20s was arrested at an address in Edinburgh. Searches were also carried out at both the residential properties as well as at a third address in east London."

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