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‘Five eyes’ and more countries are sharing intel on China
‘Five eyes’ and more countries are sharing intel on China

‘Five eyes’ and more countries are sharing intel on China

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Photo: Shutterstock/Cena Lau
Photo: Shutterstock/Cena Lau
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Nations from around the world have been teaming up to share classified intelligence and counter Chinese influence, Reuters has reported.

The Five Eyes alliance – Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – has joined nations including Japan, Germany and occasionally France to exchange classified information on China’s foreign activities since the beginning of 2018, the news agency said.

Government officials told Reuters that the talks were “below the radar,” but that there had been a “flurry of consultations” in recent months, saying that the US had taken the lead on investment matters and Australia had been primarily concerned with political interference.

China has been the main focus, but Russia has also been the subject of discussions, said sources.

China’s increasingly assertive strategy has the US and other nations concerned.
China’s increasingly assertive strategy has the US and other nations concerned. Photo: AP/Andy Wong

The governments involved declined to comment specifically on the report.

“Consultations with our allies, with like-minded partners, on how to respond to China’s assertive international strategy have been frequent and are gathering momentum,” a US official told Reuters. “What might have started as ad hoc discussions are now leading to more detailed consultations on best practices and further opportunities for cooperation.”

In response to the report, Lu Kang, a spokesman at China’s foreign ministry, said on Friday that the US was at fault.

“Someone in the US keeps trying to slander and frame China by making up stories on hearsay evidence,” he said. “We urge the US to stop defaming China by playing up the so-called cyber espionage and stop such words and acts that undermine China’s interest and China-US ties.”

With China embroiled in a trade war with the US, Beijing has tried to rally its allies and potential allies.

But countries have increasingly become concerned about China’s growing influence.

A Chinese worker smelts rare earth metals. China dominates the global supply of these materials, which have widespread applications in military tech.
A Chinese worker smelts rare earth metals. China dominates the global supply of these materials, which have widespread applications in military tech. Photo: Reuters/David Gray

At the beginning of the month, a Pentagon-led review said that China presents a “significant and growing risk” to the US military supply chain. And just this week the US arrested a Chinese intelligence agent, after setting up an elaborate sting in Belgium.

In August, Australia banned Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE from building next-generation 5G mobile infrastructure in the country, citing national security concerns. In March it banned staff in the Department of Defence from using the WeChat app on their work phones.

And Germany has been concerned about Chinese influence, especially in its tech and manufacturing sector, since a Chinese takeover of robotics firm Kuka in 2016. In August it vetoed a Chinese takeover of a German aerospace and nuclear tech manufacturer.

These moves have hurt China, whose global outbound direct investment dropped in 2017 for the first time since 2002, according to data compiled by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Additional reporting by Sarah Zheng

Adam White
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Adam White is a contributor to Inkstone. The Hong Kong­-born-and-raised journalist and editor has written for CNN, Time, Monocle, HK Magazine and the New Statesman.
Adam White
arrow rightarrow right
Adam White is a contributor to Inkstone. The Hong Kong­-born-and-raised journalist and editor has written for CNN, Time, Monocle, HK Magazine and the New Statesman.