Major leak ‘lifts the lid’ on the Chinese Communist Party and their operations overseas
Until the recent past I might have just assumed this was nothing more than Cold War rhetoric. However, recent months – the cover-19 bioweapon and discovering a 17-year-old secret speech of Gen. Chi Haotian have made me change my mind.
My previous position was based entirely on geopolitical considerations. I have been aware of the evils of the CCP – in Tibet and their crackdown on Falun Gong – for many years.
Major leak ‘exposes’ members and ‘lifts the lid’ on the Chinese Communist Party
A major leak containing a register with the details of nearly two million CCP members has occurred – exposing members who are now working all over the world, while also lifting the lid on how the party operates under Xi Jinping, says Sharri Markson.
Ms Markson said the leak is a register with the details of Communist Party members, including their names, party position, birthday, national ID number and ethnicity.
“It is believed to be the first leak of its kind in the world,” the Sky News host said.
“What’s amazing about this database is not just that it exposes people who are members of the communist party, and who are now living and working all over the world, from Australia to the US to the UK,” Ms Markson said.
“But it’s amazing because it lifts the lid on how the party operates under President and Chairman Xi Jinping”.
Ms Markson said the leak demonstrates party branches are embedded in some of the world’s biggest companies and even inside government agencies.
“Communist party branches have been set up inside western companies, allowing the infiltration of those companies by CCP members – who, if called on, are answerable directly to the communist party, to the Chairman, the president himself,” she said.
“Along with the personal identifying details of 1.95 million communist party members, mostly from Shanghai, there are also the details of 79,000 communist party branches, many of them inside companies”.
Ms Markson said the leak is a significant security breach likely to embarrass Xi Jinping.
“It is also going to embarrass some global companies who appear to have no plan in place to protect their intellectual property from theft. From economic espionage,” she said.
Ms Markson said the data was extracted from a Shanghai server by Chinese dissidents, whistleblowers, in April 2016, who have been using it for counter-intelligence purposes.
“It was then leaked in mid-September to the newly-formed international bi-partisan group, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China – and that group is made up of 150 legislators around the world.
“It was then provided to an international consortium of four media organisations, The Australian, The Sunday Mail in the UK, De Standaard in Belgium and a Swedish editor, to analyse over the past two months, and that’s what we’ve done”.
Ms Markson said it, “is worth noting that there’s no suggestion that these members have committed espionage – but the concern is over whether Australia or these companies knew of the CCP members and if so have any steps been taken to protect their data and people”.
Leaked files expose mass
infiltration of UK firms by
Chinese Communist Party
including AstraZeneca, Rolls
Royce, HSBC and Jaguar Land
Loyal members of Chinese Communist Party are working in British consulates, universities and for some of the UK’s leading companies, The Mail on Sunday can reveal
Leaked database of 1.95m registered party members reveals how Beijing’s malign influence now stretches into almost every corner of British life, including defence firms, banks and pharmaceutical giants
Some members, who swear oath to ‘guard Party secrets, be loyal to the Party, work hard, fight for communism throughout my life…and never betray the Party’, are understood to have jobs in British consulates
13 December, 2020
Loyal members of the Chinese Communist Party are working in British consulates, universities and for some of the UK’s leading companies, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
An extraordinary leaked database of 1.95 million registered party members reveals how Beijing’s malign influence now stretches into almost every corner of British life, including defence firms, banks and pharmaceutical giants.
Most alarmingly, some of its members – who swear a solemn oath to ‘guard Party secrets, be loyal to the Party, work hard, fight for communism throughout my life…and never betray the Party’ – are understood to have secured jobs in British consulates.
Among them is a senior official at the British Consulate in Shanghai. Its headquarters is also home to intelligence officers from the UK security services.
The official describes their role as supporting ministers and officials on visits to East China.
The analysis also revealed that there were more than 600 party members across 19 branches working at the British banks HSBC and Standard Chartered in 2016. Both have drawn criticism for their response to Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong
While there is no evidence that anyone on the party membership list has spied for China – and many sign up simply to boost their career prospects – experts say it defies credulity that some are not involved in espionage. Responding to the findings, an alliance of 30 MPs last night said they would be tabling an urgent question about the issue in the Commons.
Writing in The Mail on Sunday today, former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith says: ‘This investigation proves that members of the Chinese Communist Party are now spread around the globe, with members working for some of the world’s most important multinational corporations, academic institutions and our own diplomatic services.
‘The Government must now move to expel and remove any members of the Communist Party from our Consuls throughout China. They can either serve the UK or the Chinese Communist Party. They cannot do both.’
The Foreign Office last night insisted that it has ‘robust procedures in place to keep information secure and to vet staff at our overseas posts’. It is understood they are aware that they employ party members.
However, a senior Whitehall intelligence source said the revelations did raise security questions. ‘In that station [the official] will be sat one floor away from the MI6 team and could have identified intelligence officers.’
The database was originally leaked on Telegram, the encrypted instant messaging app, and passed in September by a Chinese dissident to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which comprises more than 150 legislators around the world who are concerned by the influence and activities of the Chinese government.
Dating from 2016, it includes the names of party members in Shanghai, the largest city in China and its financial hub.
The list is divided into more than 79,000 branches, many of them affiliated to individual companies or organisations.
In total, the Chinese Communist Party has more than 92 million members, but competition to join is fierce with fewer than one in ten applicants successful.
After authenticating the material, with the help of data security analysts Internet 2.0, IPAC passed the database to four media organisations around the world, including The Mail on Sunday. Detailed analysis of it by this newspaper reveals that:
- A party member who studied at St Andrews University worked at various consulates in Shanghai including that of the UK;
- Chinese academics who swore the oath to assist the party attended British universities where they were involved in potentially sensitive areas of research including aerospace engineering and chemistry;
- There were more than 600 party members across 19 branches working at the British banks HSBC and Standard Chartered in 2016. Both have drawn criticism for their response to Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong;
- The pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca – both involved in the development of coronavirus vaccines – employed a total 123 party loyalists;
- Firms with defence industry interests including Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce employed hundreds of party members.
Security sources believe the initial data leak came from a dissident who targeted an outwardly unremarkable office block in Shanghai which housed the records.
Despite the near certainty of being executed for treason if caught, he or she probably accessed it via a server before downloading it on to a laptop and releasing it on Telegram where it was found by IPAC.
As well as the names of members, the database has places, dates of birth, Chinese ethnicity and in some cases addresses and telephone numbers.
The consular official is registered in a communist party branch within a company called the The Shanghai Foreign Agency Service Corporation, a state-owned employment agency.
It employs almost 2,000 people and its website says it ‘provides comprehensive and high-quality services to more than 100 foreign organisations in Shanghai including foreign consulates, foreign news media, and foreign schools’.
Analysis of the data shows at least 249 Communist Party members were registered with the agency in 2016.
Academics on the membership list include some living and working in the UK. They include a research fellow in aerospace engineering at a leading university who also works for a private company.
Aerospace engineering is designated by the British Government as among the seven most militarily sensitive university subjects.
Students from countries that are not in the EU or the ‘Five Eyes’ network of Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are required to have an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.
During the application process, they are asked to declare any state-linked funding, although some security experts fear the vetting process is not stringent enough. The research fellow did not respond to a request for comment last night.
The US security services have been increasingly concerned about the threat of Chinese espionage on campuses.
In the nine months to September, 14 Chinese nationals were charged over alleged spying offences and the Trump administration last week changed its visa rules so members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families can stay or get travel documents for only a month.
Last week, John Ratcliffe, the US Director of National Security, warned that China posed the ‘greatest threat to democracy and freedom’ since the Second World War and was striving to dominate ‘the planet economically, militarily and technologically’.
Australia revoked the visas of two professors from China in September amid suspicions they were involved in espionage. One of the men appears on the leaked membership list.
The database also reveals that party members work for many British and international companies in China, several involved in the defence or pharmaceutical industries.
Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Airbus and the French defence contractor Thales each have dozens of party members or more on their books while the British banking giants HSBC and Standard Chartered both have hundreds. Jaguar Land Rover was another company with staff who were members of the party.
Cosco, a major Chinese shipping firm, even has two branches in the UK for its seven members. Three are based at the port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, which receives almost half of Britain’s container trade.
In total, the list for 2016 reveals 2,909 members working for Cosco across 118 branches worldwide.
None of the companies above said they banned members of the Chinese Communist Party from being employees.
There is no evidence that any of the firms named above has been targeted or fallen victim to espionage and each insists it has measures in place to protect data, staff and customers.
Reacting to the findings, former Foreign Office diplomat and China expert Matthew Henderson said: ‘This is yet further proof of how China has inveigled its way into the British establishment. We are dancing with rabid wolves, intent on driving a wedge between Britain and America, overthrowing democracy and outstripping the West.’
Sam Armstrong, from the Henry Jackson Society foreign policy think-tank, said: ‘This is a deeply disturbing illustration of China’s spread across the globe which we can’t look away from and must tackle head on.’
And a former CIA and White House intelligence analyst, who specialises in East Asia affairs, said: ‘This is what the Chinese Communist Party is and you can’t trust them. They’re always looking for opportunities where they can take advantage of relationships, friendships, whatever, to further the interests of the Communist Party.’
However, Robbie Barnett, an affiliate of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London and at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said: ‘It’s not likely that many members in China actually believe in or care about Communism, so it’s largely a nation-building project, not an ideological one.
‘That’s just one of the many reasons that a McCarthyist, catch-all approach doesn’t make sense, even apart from the fact that it would be a gross abuse of people’s human rights.’
Last night, a Chinese Embassy spokeswoman said: ‘We urge the media to abandon ideological bias and Cold-War mentality and view China, the Communist Party of China and China’s development in a rational and impartial manner.’
The devotee who works just yards from MI6 spies
Outwardly at least, the British consulate in Shanghai – at 17F Garden Square – appears wholly unremarkable. There is little to distinguish it from the other high-rise buildings that crowd the city’s historic riverside district. What goes on inside, however, is quite a different matter.
One consular official identified in the leaked database is said by security sources to work near to a team of MI6 officers operating under diplomatic cover. Intriguingly, and some critics of the China’s regime may think worryingly too, the official is apparently on the floor below or, as one security source put it, ‘down a staircase’.
There is no evidence that anything untoward has taken place, but the simple fact that a Chinese Communist Party member is working in close proximity to intelligence officers has in itself given rise to concerns that the UK is ‘playing with fire’.
Long known as a city of intrigue, Shanghai was fabled in the 1930s as the Paris of the East, China’s most modern metropolis, a haven for gangsters and intellectuals, colonials and radicals, the new rich and the ultra-poor.
The communist revolution changed all that and the city’s famous vitality was largely stamped out. Even in the late 1980s, when other parts of China were modernising fast, Shanghai lagged behind.
Now its appearance is positively futuristic. The skyscrapers in the gleaming financial district Pudong, for instance, dwarf the old colonial waterfront across the Huangpu river.
One senior Whitehall security source claimed: ‘In that station [the official] will be sat one floor away from the security services team.
‘In theory, anybody walking past where the official works and up the staircase could be identified as an intelligence officer and that information passed back to the Communist Party.’
Chained: Media mogul who defied tyranny
Handcuffed, bound in chains and flanked by police officers, businessman Jimmy Lai is led to court to face charges of colluding with foreign powers.
The pro-democracy media mogul, one of the few business leaders in Hong Kong to speak out against the draconian new national security laws, was denied bail yesterday over allegations he had asked foreign countries to impose sanctions.
Mr Lai, 73, owner of the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily and founder of Next Digital Media, has repeatedly called for international action over the erosion of liberties in Hong Kong.
Crackdown: Pro-democracy businessman Jimmy Lai, chained round his waist and wrists to a guard, is marched to court yesterday
The charges reportedly relate to tweets he posted, including one in May asking Donald Trump to impose sanctions on China, and his decision to launch an English-language edition of Apple Daily.
Hong Kong politician Ted Hui, who lives in Britain after being forced into exile, told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I feel extremely heavy watching my friends go to jail, perhaps for life. Freedom of speech is totally collapsed in Hong Kong and it’s extremely alarming to the world.’
Mr Lai’s arrest is the latest in a crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement since the sweeping national security law passed this summer by Beijing, which allows Chinese security forces to operate there.
Last week, activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were jailed for taking part in an unauthorised protest last year. Teenage activist Tony Chung was also convicted last week of desecrating the Chinese flag, and at least 16 other activists were arrested.