File: A spy camera and top secret files. Pixabay/peterbwiberg
BEIJING - China on Friday dismissed a rare public warning by British security services that a suspected Chinese agent was trying to influence lawmakers, saying it was the result of watching "too many 007 movies".
British authorities said Thursday that a London-based solicitor "knowingly engaged in political interference activities" inside parliament, citing Britain's counter-intelligence and domestic spy agency MI5.
Christine Lee had reportedly worked on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party to gain influence through donations, the office of House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said.
China's foreign ministry denied engaging in "interference activities", blasting the accusations as "alarmist remarks based on some individuals' subjective assumptions".
"Perhaps some individuals have watched too many 007 movies, leading to unnecessary mental associations," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference, referring to the James Bond book and movie franchise.
MI5's security notice said Lee was acting "on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party" and answered to figures in China and Hong Kong.
Governments and politicians in other Western countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have accused China of attempting to influence domestic politics through donations and espionage.
London's latest accusations come a week after a rare online exchange between Chinese state news agency Xinhua and the head of Britain's MI6 in response to a spoof by Xinhua of James Bond that mocked the Western intelligence community's focus on Beijing.
MI6 head Richard Moore reacted to Xinhua's video on Twitter, thanking the news agency for "free publicity" and attaching a link to his November speech in which he warned of China's attempts to "distort public discourse" globally.