China poses an “epoch-defining” challenge to the West, the head of the National Cyber Security Centre is reportedly set to warn.
Director Lindy Cameron, who heads up the GCHQ arm, will use a speech in Belfast this week to warn the UK and allies of the “dramatic rise of China as a technology superpower”.
The remarks, set to be delivered this week at the CyberUK annual conference, were reported by the Times newspaper. They come as the the US, the UK and Western nations attempt to navigate the growing economic and political reach of China amid concerns about the threat the country poses to security.
Concerns about China have already seen UK Government ban ministers from using video-sharing app TikTok on their work phones following a security review.
The House of Commons and the Lords also cited security concerns as they decided to ban the app – owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance – across the Palace of Westminster.
“China has identified several existing and emerging technologies as being vital to its future national security. And it has an aspiration to become a world leader in setting technological standards,” she will tell the conference.
“So we need to be clear: China is not only pushing for parity with western countries, it is aiming for technical supremacy. It will use its tech strength as a lever to achieve a dominant role in global affairs. What does this mean for cybersecurity? Bluntly we cannot afford not to keep pace otherwise we risk China becoming the predominant power in cyberspace.
“Some may dismiss this as far-fetched or scaremongering, but it is a risk I would urge you to take seriously. This is simply not something about which any of us can be complacent.”
The Government’s updated blueprint for UK foreign and defence policy – the “refreshed” integrated review published last month – described China under Communist Party rule represents an “epoch-defining and systemic challenge” to almost every aspect of government policy and the everyday lives of British people.
But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak remains under pressure from some MPs within his own party to take a tougher stance against Beijing.