By Wayne Chang and Michelle Toh, CNN
Taipei/Hong Kong (CNN) — China said Monday it has detained a foreign national who was the head of an overseas consulting firm for allegedly spying on behalf of the United Kingdom.
China’s civilian spy agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), said in a statement that it had apprehended an individual surnamed Huang working with Britain’s MI6 while leading a foreign consultancy.
The agency did not mention Huang’s full name, gender or nationality, nor identify the company they worked at.
According to the MSS, Huang started working with MI6 in 2015 on intelligence matters, with the British agency directing Huang to travel to China multiple times to collect intelligence and identify potential assets for it.
M16 provided Huang with training, as well as professional spying equipment for the exchange of intelligence and communications, the MSS added.
It alleged that Huang ended up providing Britain with 17 pieces of intelligence, including several “national secrets.”
During the MSS investigation, Huang was given access to consular visits from their home country in accordance with the law, it said. CNN has reached out to the British Embassy in Beijing and the UK Foreign Office for comment on the case.
The news comes after China embarked on a months-long crackdown on international consulting firms.
Last May, state security authorities said they had raided several offices of Capvision, an advisory network with headquarters in Shanghai and New York. The announcement came after Chinese officials closed the Beijing office of Mintz Group, a US corporate due diligence firm, and questioned employees at the local branch of top consultancy Bain.
The measures were part of wider efforts by Beijing to increase oversight of what it deems sensitive information pertaining to national security.
Capvision later said in October that it had successfully completed a national security inspection overseen by the Chinese government, and come up with new compliance measures to address concerns.
The MSS, which oversees intelligence and counterintelligence both within China and overseas, is typically known for keeping a low profile. But it has expanded communications with the public recently, including launching an account on WeChat, the ubiquitous social networking platform in China.
The agency has used the platform to call on “all members of society” to join its fight against foreign spies, particularly after the passage of a counter-espionage law that took effect last July. The enacting of that law has also spooked businesses that are worried about whether the expanded scope could lead to higher legal risks.
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