Chinese spy device found hidden in UK government vehicle

File photo of the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, entering a government car on Downing Street in London (REUTERS / Peter Nicholls) (PETER NICHOLLS /)

service agents UK intelligence they discovered a Chinese tracking device in a British Government car by dismantling it in the middle of an organized operation after the growing demands of political leaders for an urgent review of the “systemic threat” posed by the espionage of “hostile States”.

According to sources in the British newspaper The iwas found at least a SIM card capable of transmitting location data in an inspection of government and diplomatic vehicles. Said device was placed in a car inside a sealed part imported from a China supplier and installed by the vehicle manufacturer.

Among the repercussions for this revelation, Chinese officials rejected the claim, calling it “unfounded and pure rumors”. They added: “We strongly oppose political manipulation of normal economic and trade cooperation or any discrediting of Chinese companies.”

A report indicates that espionage experts had disassembled the British Government vehicles used to transport ministers and diplomats searching for hidden tracking devices and found cards capable of tracking shipments and sending data to state providers in China.

Senior political officials in the United Kingdom fear that Chinese and Russian intelligence services have spied on British ministers (REUTERS / Peter Nicholls)
Senior political officials in the United Kingdom fear that the Chinese and Russian intelligence services have spied on British ministers (REUTERS / Peter Nicholls) (PETER NICHOLLS /)

An official told the newspaper The i that the cars were “surgically disassembled to the last nut and bolt” and found “rather disturbing things”. And he explained the seriousness of the finding: “Tracking SIMs allow government tracking for months and years, constantly recording movements and creating a complete picture of activity. You can do it slowly and methodically for a long, long time. That’s the vulnerability.”

This report raises serious concerns about the national security of the United Kingdom, amid the fears that Chinese and Russian intelligence services have targeted British ministers.

Besides, these geolocation devices can be placed in vehicles without the knowledge of the manufacturers after hiding in sealed parts from suppliers in China. And factories install those parts in cars without opening them due to various trade and warranty agreements.

In addition, major automakers have signed deals with Chinese companies accused of spying on the West in recent years. BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have partnered with China Unicom to develop 5G connectivity inside cars to communicate information in real time with infrastructure, vehicles and cloud-based services. In 2021, China Unicom was sanctioned by the United States for “significant” security and espionage reasons.

A China Unicom stand at the China International Fair for Trade in Services 2022 (CIFTIS) in Beijing (REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)
A China Unicom stand at the China International Fair for Trade in Services 2022 (CIFTIS) in Beijing (REUTERS / Tingshu Wang) (TINGSHU WANG /)

Chinese surveillance cameras banned

Another sign of increased UK government action against China for security reasons occurred in November 2022, when the British ministries were ordered to stop installing Chinese-made surveillance cameras in “sensitive places”. According to the organization Big Brother Watch, most British public bodies used CCTV cameras made by Hikvision or Dahua, two companies whose products have allegedly been implicated in abuses of the rights of Xinjiang’s Uyghur minority.

The government advised against the use in Britain of “visual surveillance systems” made by companies required by Chinese law to share information with security services in Beijing. And he noted that these cameras should not be connected to the “core networks” of government departments, and that ministries should consider replacing them rather than wait for scheduled updates.

And a government study concluded that, “in light of the threat looming over the United Kingdom and the increasing capacity and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are required,” the Parliament then declared. Minister Oliver Dowden. “Therefore, the departments have been instructed to cease the deployment of this equipment in sensitive places, when it is produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China.

With information from AFP

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