Earlier this year in September, a database of Chinese Communist Party officials was released on Telegram, the encrypted instant messaging app. Originally passed by a Chinese dissident to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, the database revealed 150 compromised legislatures around the world. This includes politicians, lobbyists, and corporate interests. The list is divided into more than 79,000 branches, many of them affiliated to individual companies or organizations. A detailed analysis by MoS of the material showed that pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca, both involved in the development of coronavirus vaccines, employed a total of 123 party loyalists. It also revealed that more than 600 party members across 19 branches working at the British banks HSBS and Standard Chartered in 2016. Both have drawn criticism for their response to Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong.
Former Tory Party leader Duncan Smith stated “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.
According to the Foreign Office, they insist 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.’
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. Senior positions in business, academia and government are almost exclusively occupied by party members.
Many countries have been compromised. 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. 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.
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 defense industry interests including Airbus, Boeing and Rolls-Royce employed hundreds of party members.