“The risk of miscalculation of the Chinese due to overconfidence is real” – .

“The risk of miscalculation of the Chinese due to overconfidence is real” – .

MI6 chief Richard Moore speaks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, where he said UK intelligence agencies must open up to cooperation with the global tech sector if they are to counter the Growing cyber threats from hostile states, criminals and terrorists. .
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Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service, fears that China is making a “miscalculation” because of overconfidence in its own global status.
“Tectonic plates are shifting as China’s power and willingness to assert it grows,” Moore said Tuesday in his first public speech since taking over as head of the spy agency in October. latest. The speech was delivered at Arundel House in London as part of an event organized by the think tank of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“Beijing believes in its own propaganda on Western fragilities and underestimates Washington’s resolve,” added Moore, who joined the spy agency 34 years ago. “The risk of Chinese overconfidence miscalculation is real. “

The Chinese Embassy in London did not immediately respond to a CNBC request to comment on Moore’s speech.

Tensions between the West and China have intensified in recent years as Beijing and Washington continue to see the world differently.

“There are many areas in which our country needs to engage with Beijing, including trade and investment, cultural ties, and transnational challenges of climate change and biodiversity,” Moore said.
“But the fact remains that China is an authoritarian state with different values ​​and this is reflected in the threats we see emanating from the Chinese state. “

Based on the banks of the Thames in Vauxhall, London, MI6 recruits and directs undercover agents in other countries to provide the British government with secret information. The agency, which is the equivalent of the CIA in the United States, has become world famous thanks to the fictional series of James Bond, which plays an MI6 agent named 007.

China’s own intelligence services are “highly capable,” Moore said, adding that they continue to conduct large-scale espionage operations against the UK and its allies, often targeting those who work in government or on government. research of particular interest to the Chinese state.

“Chinese intelligence officers seek to exploit the open nature of our society, including by using social media platforms,” Moore said.

A view of MI6 headquarters in London, England.

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There is a risk that world stability and peace will be disrupted if China decides to use force to solve the Taiwan problem, Moore said. China sees Taiwan as a separatist province, while Taiwan sees itself as separate from China, having governed itself since its separation from the mainland in 1949 following a long civil war.

“The leadership of the Communist Party of China increasingly favors bold and decisive action justified on the grounds of national security,” Moore said. “The days of [former Chinese leader] Deng Xiaoping ‘hide your strength, bide your time’ is long past. “

Beijing has drawn international condemnation for its “broad program of repression” against members of its Uyghur Muslim minority ethnic group. This includes forced labor, the mass incarceration of over a million people in “re-education” camps and the alleged sterilization of Uyghur women, as reported by the media and the US State Department. Beijing denies having violated the human rights of Uyghurs.

Moore said “worryingly, these control and surveillance technologies are increasingly exported to other governments by China, expanding the network of authoritarian control around the planet,” without specifying where exactly they are exported.

Russia and Iran

Along with Russia, Iran and international terrorism, China is one of MI6’s “big four” threats, Moore said. MI6 must hire more technical experts and work more closely with its partners to combat the threat from state and non-state actors, he added.

Former spy James Griffiths, an operator who has provided cyber-offensive capabilities to the UK government’s Defense Ministry and GCHQ, said in a statement shared with CNBC that MI6 needs to work with tech companies.

“This is the first time MI6 has publicly stated that we need to improve these relationships and develop them to ensure their resilience,” said Griffiths, co-founder of Cyber ​​Security Associates, which provides cyber advisory services and of cyber-management for businesses. .

“Technology can help in many ways automate some of the tasks performed by intelligence officers,” Griffiths said. “This could be through big data and automated analytics to find the needle in a haystack (the potential threat to the UK from an attack) or it could be used to increase the capabilities available to them. officers when deployed overseas. countries. “

The world lives in a “hotly contested era” in which nation states compete in virtual and physical realms, Moore added.

“We live in a world transformed by digital connectivity and we are on the cusp of revolutionary technological advancements, which will affect the way we live and work in ways that we cannot fully predict,” said Moore, adding that advances in artificial intelligence, quantum engineering and engineering biology will lead to dramatic changes.

“The digital attacks that criminals, terrorists and hostile states seek to exploit against us are increasing exponentially,” Moore said.

“According to some estimates, we may see more technological advancement in the next 10 years than in the last century, with a disruptive impact equal to the industrial revolution. As a society, we have yet to fully integrate this brutal fact and its potential impact on global geopolitics, but it is a hot topic for MI6. “

– CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this article.


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