China arrests an individual on charges of collecting state secrets on behalf of Britain

China announced on Monday the detention of an individual accused of collecting state secrets on behalf of the UK’s foreign intelligence agency MI6.

The name and nationality of the alleged spy, who was only referred to as a citizen of a third nation with the surname of ‘Huang’, is yet unknown. According to a message posted on social media by China’s Ministry of State Security, the individual had been cooperating with the UK since 2015.

The ministry said that Huang had received training in intelligence gathering and was provided equipment to spy on China. It said Huang had collected numerous state secrets on repeated visits to China.

The announcement from Beijing leaves more questions than answers. The report did not specify what kind of intelligence Huang would have gathered, nor where he or she was being detained.

The UK government has not yet commented on the allegations, which follow a deterioration of the relations between London and Beijing sparked by the opposition to Chinese investment in the country by the British government.

London has also been critical of Beijing’s crackdown on democracy advocates and political rights in Hong Kong, a former British colony which was formally returned to China in the summer of 1997. 

Violent anti-government protests in 2019 were met with Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law and electoral changes.

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