LONDON (Reuters) – China’s threat to Britain’s national security is being addressed in a “totally inadequate” way, with too much emphasis on short-term economic considerations rather than long-term risks, it said on Thursday. a parliamentary committee.

China uses its vast intelligence services to target Britain and its interests “prolifically and aggressively”, seeking to influence and penetrate all aspects of the British economy, according to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) .

From universities, a “fertile ground” for developing strategies for political influence, to overreliance on Chinese technology, the government has favored too much investment at the expense of potential security risks, said the committee in a report.

“The government accepted the Chinese money without asking questions,” ISC president Julian Lewis told reporters.

“But without quick and decisive action, we are heading towards a nightmare scenario where China steals blueprints, sets standards and builds products, wielding political and economic influence at every step,” he said. adding that it potentially posed “an existential threat to liberal democratic systems”.

The Chinese Embassy in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has come under pressure from some members of his Conservative Party to take a tougher stance on China, but he has tried to toe the line. crest by asserting that the West should not dissociate itself from Beijing.

Responding to the report, he said China posed “a major challenge to the international order”, echoing the latest UK security recommendations which refrain from portraying China as a threat.

Rishi Sunak said the government had taken steps to reduce the UK’s reliance on Chinese technology and to avoid interference, but wanted to have an “open” and “constructive” relationship with the UK. China.

“We are not satisfied and we are fully aware that there is still a lot to do,” he said in a statement.

The commission, which oversees the work of Britain’s intelligence community, said China’s impact on Britain’s national security was evident, through takeovers, mergers and its interaction with academia and industry. , but that these elements were beyond the scope of the commission’s investigation.

She criticized the UK government, saying its attention was taken up by short-term threats, and said ministers needed to ensure security concerns were not “constantly overshadowed by economic self-interest”. “.

“We found that the level of resources devoted to countering the threat posed by China’s whole-state approach is grossly inadequate, and the slow pace at which strategies and policies are developed and implemented left a lot to be desired,” the ISC said.

Heads of Britain’s spy agencies issued similar warnings in their rare public comments, presenting China as the country’s top intelligence priority.

“The challenge of China’s rise raises huge questions for the future of the Western alliance,” Ken McCallum, head of MI5, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, told the ISC.

(Report Michael Holden, Andrew MacAskill, Corentin Chapron, edited by Kate Entringer)

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