LONDON — The U.K. must continue to spend big on national security technologies such as quantum computing in order to resist Chinese dominance, a British spy chief said.
In a speech to be delivered Tuesday, GCHQ’s Director Jeremy Fleming will warn the Chinese Communist Party is seeking to use technologies such as digital currencies and satellite systems to tighten its domestic grip and spread influence abroad.
“Technology has become not just an area for opportunity, for competition and collaboration — it’s a battleground for control, values and influence,” Fleming will say, according to an advanced copy of his speech at the RUSI think tank which has been shared with journalists. “Without the collective action of like-minded allies, the divergent values of the Chinese state will be exported through technology.”
He will caution against China’s Central Bank Digital Currencies, which he will say could allow Beijing to monitor transactions of users, and the BeiDou satellite system, which Fleming will say could be used to track individuals. He will also warn that “the hand of the Chinese state” can be detected in failed attempts by Chinese industry to put in place new intellectual property standards.
Western intelligence agencies are “seeing plenty of activity from the Chinese intelligence agencies,” Fleming will note, including the use of debt leverage, “obfuscated investments in critical industries” and “old-fashioned spying to steal intellectual property and garner influence.”
The U.K. National Quantum Technologies Programme, launched in 2014, has attracted over £1 billion in public and private investment so far, but the GCHQ director will urge Britain to “continue to make deep investments” in this and other key national security technologies.
“We know our security and prosperity will depend on mastering quantum capabilities,” he will say. “Our companies, universities and intelligence agencies cannot afford to be late to the quantum revolution, or to be relaxed about the extent to which others, perhaps especially in China, are watching our progress.”
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