Allegations about a Chinese spy collecting information from MPs have been used to ramp up nationalism and warmongering. But they have also underlined divisions in the ruling class. The Metropolitan Police confirmed last weekend that two men were arrested in March over espionage-related offences. One of the men worked as a researcher in Westminster.
The hypocrisy of the frenzied denunciations that followed is obvious. Britain has a vast network of spies directed both against its declared enemies, and even some of its supposed allies. Countries such as the United States and Israel operate networks targeting people in Britain and also try to bend policies to their will.
In 2009 the journalist Tim Shipman revealed the US and CIA was “running its own agent networks on an unprecedented scale in the British Pakistani community.” There was no outrage about this. Speaking of parliament, Rishi Sunak claimed, “The sanctity of this place must be protected.” He was speaking of an institution riddled with sexual assaults, lies, corruption and law-breaking—including by Sunak himself.
More generally, Britain is part of the Western effort to recover from the defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, humiliate Russia in Ukraine and then confront China. That is the background to, for example, the Aukus pact between Britain, the US and Australia. This will provide Australia with nuclear‑powered attack submarines and other advanced weaponry to use against China.
The latest spy claims will be used to boost anti-China feeling. But the Tories also have a problem in simply declaring China to be an enemy. It’s a key economic player that British business wants to cooperate with. In the past six months ministers have tried to defrost five years of icy relations with China. They fear that competitors such as France and Germany are doing deals with China—and British big business will lose out.
All the rhetoric about spies or the human rights of dissidents in Hong Kong and the Uyghurs is empty noise—unless it can be used to boost imperialism. Cash comes first. This week business secretary Kemi Badenoch said politicians should not use language that “makes people scared”. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt stated Britain should carry on talking to China.
But home secretary Suella Braverman and security minister Tom Tugendhat want China to be subject to tougher controls under the National Security Act. Meanwhile, almost forgotten, the parliamentary researcher accused of working for China has completely denied the spying allegations levelled against him.
China has an imperialist ruling class that exploits and oppresses workers, women and minorities. So does Britain. Our first duty is to stand against rulers’ warmongering. We should use any splits at the top to weaken this rotten government through struggle.Original post