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UK and U.S. impose sanctions on China for cyber-attacks in the UK

Updated: Jun 4

March 25, 2024 – Today, the UK Government announced the imposition of sanctions on two Chinese individuals and one Chinese company, attributing their connection to two severe cyber-attacks targeting the UK. These attacks specifically targeted election security, resulting in over 40 million voters, and over 40 members of Parliament having their electoral register and other information hacked.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also announced that it had sanctioned the same people and the same company, as well as indicted 5 additional Chinese nationals for the hacking of pro-democracy Hong Kong activists and associates in Hong Kong, the U.S. and elsewhere over a 14-year period.

The British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden MP, made a statement in the House of Commons where he announced that steps had been taken to respond to these cyber-attacks including the sanctioning of two Chinese citizens and of one Chinese company.

The British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, announced that the government has summoned the Chinese ambassador, imposed sanctions, travel bans, and asset freezes on the individuals and group responsible.

Earlier today in London, a press conference was organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China where three British politicians who were affected by the cyber-attack, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP (Conservative Party), Tim Loughton MP (Conservative Party), and Stewart McDonald MP (SNP), all spoke about the weakness of the British Government in facing threats from China. They highlighted the attacks against people from Hong Kong and other Chinese dissidents. They mentioned previous warnings from security services seemed to have gone unheeded and called on the Government to take meaningful action.

Mark Sabah, UK & EU Director, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation said:

“We welcome the fact that the British Government has taken some small steps in the right direction, and we are delighted that the U.S. is taking similar steps. However, there is still a long way to go before the UK can say it is taking the threats from China seriously. The sanctions against those interfering in British democracy needs to be increased. Not only in this case, but also on those who have imposed Article 23 on Hong Kong. Diplomats engaged in political interference and intimidation need to be immediately expelled, and a massive reduction of reliance on Chinese money in the UK education system is required. We also need to see the closing of Confucius Institutes and the shutting of Hong Kong Economic and Trade offices in the UK.”

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