Lawmakers fear China may be tracking ministers’ cars with high-tech chips

Alicia Kearns

Alicia Kearns

Conservative lawmakers have demanded the Government to disclose whether ministry cars contain Chinese-made chips, which they fear could track the movements of politicians.

New concerns about the safety of Cabinet members have surfaced after a hidden Beijing-linked tracking device was found during a scan of vehicles last week.

While the allegations were unequivocally denied by China, the alleged incident prompted backbenchers to warn against the use of technology that could pose a security threat.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the Tory foreign affairs committee, told lawmakers earlier this week that 50 percent of all cellular “Internet of Things” modules used in cars are made by three companies – Quetcel, Fibocom and China Mobile. “unreliable”.

Speaking at a Commons discussion on the Procurement Bill, Ms Kearns said the Chinese government “could pretty easily figure out who the Prime Minister’s security team is”.

He added that he could then monitor British security guards during their “reconnaissance for the future”. [state] Visits as a way to monitor the movements of Rishi Sunak and other high-profile figures”.

Companies have their headquarters in China

All three companies contacted for comment are headquartered in China, and China Mobile is the trading name of a state-owned network.

However, the Cabinet Office refused to confirm or deny whether modules manufactured by any company were used in ministry cars, adding that it did not comment on safety issues.

A veteran Tory backbencher told The Telegraph: “Honesty is the best policy here and we need transparency. We also need to make sure we’re not naive about security and understand the world we live in. I think some reassurance would be helpful.”

Richard Drax, a member of the defense select committee, said: “We have to be very, very aware that in all departments, in the ministry, defense or any other field, overt or covert, overtly Chinese influence is not there.

“What we need to do is make sure we can influence China as much as we can, but also make sure that we don’t leave ourselves vulnerable to Chinese influence, at least in the field of defense.”

Sir John Redwood, senior MP for Wokingham, said ministers “of course” should open up their purchasing decisions, while Ms Kearns added that British automakers should stop using cellular modules.

“Every British car using these modules is currently at risk of being hacked and their data being sent back to China,” he said.

Mr. Sunak warned late last year that the “golden age” of relations between Britain and China was coming to an end.

To the dismay of hawks on the Tory bench—including his predecessor, Liz Truss—who wanted a tougher stance, he adopted a policy of “solid pragmatism.”

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