Quoted In

Saturday, September 12, 2020

"FEARS have been raised that the Chinese government could be hacking telephones of MPs critical of the Beijing regime.  Newly-elected Conservative MP Gary Sambrook has told the Sunday Express that he has had to get his phone checked after he joined the China Research Group of parliamentarians set up by Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee.  Mr Sambrook, the MP for Northfield in the West Midlands, said: “I joined the China Research Group and a couple of days later my mobile phone started going funny.  “I had words in Chinese randomly coming up on the phone and it looked like it might have been hacked.”

The China Research Group (CRG) was set up by Mr Tugendhat in the wake of the Hong Kong crisis and amid new crackdowns by the Beijing regime as well as concerns over its involvement with the spread of coronavirus.

The CRG initially focussed on preventing Huawei from being involved in the UK’s 5G network but intends to monitor Chinese industrial policy, technological developments and foreign policy.

Mr Sambrook’s allegations come as another Conservative MP Alexander Stafford has warned that China must not be allowed to deny Britain access to “critical minerals” which are needed for the battery and renewables technology upon which the country’s green revolution depends.

He said: “At a moment’s notice China can just pull up the drawbridge and not allow these minerals over... We need to have control over them and also need to secure them for our own national safety and that is why it is incredibly important.”

Mr Stafford argues that the difficulties of securing PPE at the start of the pandemic demonstrated why Britain needs dependable supply chains for vital resources.

Jeff Townsend, the founder of the Critical Minerals Association, shared his concerns but argued Britain had the opportunity to develop its own resources and secure access to international mineral reserves, saying: “The reality is the economy based on oil is coming to an end. These new economies of green electricity, green energy, green cars, they are based on critical minerals.

“China basically dominates [the market for] nearly every single critical mineral on earth because they spotted this 20 years ago and they started this strategy...

“People say we need to catch up with China. The reality is we can overtake China if we’re strategic.”

He argues that technological breakthroughs mean lithium can be mined in Cornwall and cobalt can be secured as a by-product of refining nickel".