The allegation that a suspected Chinese spy has donated more than $686,403 million to a senior British Labour MP has brought to the fore the issue of Chinese buying political influence in other countries. Barry Gardiner, who was a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, received millions of dollars from Chinese spy Christine Ching Kui Lee allegedly to “cover staffing costs in his office” for over a period of six years. She also got her son appointed as Gardner’s diary manager. Lee has been trying to cultivate other British politicians to secure a ‘UK political landscape’ that was ‘favourable’ to China.
Meanwhile, it has come to light that Beijing has spent more than $940 million across 42 Commonwealth countries since 2005 to buy support of politicians and political parties. It has tied many countries through its debt-trap diplomacy. Sri Lanka is an example close to our home. Sri Lanka had to cede control of its strategic port of Hambantota after it failed to payback the loan. China has used the same modus operandi in countries such as Barbados and Jamaica. Beijing hopes to saddle them with such big unpayable debts that they are forced to hand over the assets used as security.
China has tried to make interventions in internal politics of India also. The Chinese embassy in India has shot off an angry letter to some Indian members of parliament (MPs) who attended a meet organised by the Tibetan government in exile. The Indian MPs who participated in the meet were – Jairam Ramesh, Manish Tiwari, Sujeet Kumar, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Ramdas Athawale, Maneka Gandhi.
The letter by Political Counsellor, Chinese Embassy to India Zhou Yongsheng calls on Indian MPs to not engage with “out-and-out separatist political group and an illegal organization”. It further points, “Indian government has recognized that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China” and Beijing “firmly opposes any anti-China separatist activities conducted by ‘Tibetan independence’ forces in any capacity”.
Meanwhile, British Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that it was ‘deeply concerning’ that the Chinese Communist Party was targeting British parliamentarians. Another British MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith has condemned Beijing’s international behaviour including its treatment of the Uighur Muslim population of Xinjiang province, suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, intimidation of Taiwan, and alleged cover-up of the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.