British MI5 chief: Be as wary of Chinese and Russian spy threats as you are of terrorism

From London sources, Ken McCallum, director of Britain’s MI5, will speak on July 14 and caution the public to be as wary of the threat of spying from Russia and China as they are of terrorism. He warned that foreign spies are trying to steal British technology, sow discord and attack infrastructure.

According to The Guardian, McCallum will present at MI5 headquarters on the occasion of the annual threat report that the British public will have to “build the same public awareness and resilience to national threats that we have done with terrorism for years. While the threat of espionage from Russia, as illustrated by the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018, is familiar to the British public, McCallum will suggest in his speech that the threat, usually from China, is different.

McCallum will point out that if British universities and researchers are not vigilant, they risk “having their discoveries stolen or copied,” while companies could be “hollowed out by losing the edge they have worked so hard to build. According to a leaked portion of the speech, McCallum said, “Given half a chance, hostile actors could bring years of patient research or investment in the UK to an end. This is happening on a massive scale. Its affecting us all. British jobs, British public services, the future of Britain.”

McCallum said British intelligence has cracked down 10,000 times on foreign spies in disguise, trying to manipulate ordinary Britons. He said the consequences of spying by foreign powers can range “from frustration and inconvenience to loss of livelihood and possibly life. In his speech, McCallum stressed that “over time, we must build the population’s alertness and resilience to national threats, just as we have done with terrorism over the years.”

More than a decade ago, around 2008-09, MI5 allocated only 3 percent of its efforts to counter the activities of hostile states, though that has shifted significantly as both Russia and China have become more assertive, according to the U.K. Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, the report said.

Earlier this year, MI5 warned that 10,000 Britons had been targeted by fake accounts in disguise on Link (LinkedIn) in the past five years. According to McCallum, “Get right to the point: if you work in a high-tech business; or do cutting-edge scientific research; or export to certain markets, you will be watched by foreign spies with more interest than you might think. You don’t have to be afraid; but be vigilant.”