China has detained a foreign national who was the head of an overseas consulting firm for allegedly spying on behalf of the United Kingdom, as reported by CNN.
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.
However, the agency did not mention Huang's full name, gender or nationality, nor identified the company they worked at.
Huang's Association With MI6
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, MSS said in its statement.
MI6 provided Huang with training as well as professional spying equipment for the exchange of intelligence and communications, the MSS added.
It further 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.
Moreover, the British Embassy in Beijing referred CNN to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for comment on the case. However, the FCDO did not immediately respond to their request.
This comes after China embarked on a months-long crackdown on international consulting firms, as reported by CNN.
Several Offices Raided
Earlier in May last year, the state security authorities said that 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.
Meanwhile, the measures were part of wider efforts by Beijing to increase oversight of what it says is sensitive information pertaining to national security, according to CNN.
Later, Capvision 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.
Reportedly, the MSS, which oversees intelligence and counterintelligence both within China and overseas, is typically known for keeping a low profile.
But recently, it has expanded communications with the public, including launching an account on WeChat, the ubiquitous social networking platform in China, CNN reported.
The agency has further 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 in last July.
That law has also spooked businesses that are worried about whether the expanded scope could lead to higher legal risks.