Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confronted China’s premier Li Qiang over his country’s ‘unacceptable’ interference in British democracy, while MPs have said it marks an ‘escalation’ in hostilities by the superpower.
It is not the first time China has been condemned for the alleged use of spies. The incident follows allegations earlier this year that China flew a surveillance balloon over the United States, causing a diplomatic furore.
A multitude of Chinese espionage techniques have been documented over the years, with spies arrested and companies sanctioned for their alleged roles.
Here, MailOnline looks at some of the ways China has worked to spy on the West in recent years.
The United States warned in 2022 that the Asian giant represents ‘the broadest, most active, and persistent cyber espionage threat’ to its government and private sector.
According to researchers and Western intelligence officials, China has become adept at hacking rival nations’ digital systems to gather trade secrets.
In 2021, the United States, NATO and other allies said China had employed ‘contract hackers’ to exploit a breach in Microsoft email systems, giving state security agents access to sensitive information.
Chinese spies have also hacked the US energy department, utility companies, telecommunications firms and universities, according to US government statements and media reports.
The United States also has its own ways of spying on China, deploying surveillance and interception techniques as well as networks of informants.