The former CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre has branded Britain’s new China policy ‘confusing’ after it was labelled a ‘competitor’ while Russia will be seen as a ‘hostile state’.
Ciaran Martin, the previous head of cyber security at GCHQ, warned the government must be ‘cautious’ on depending on President Xi Jinping for technology.
His comments come ahead of Tuesday’s foreign policy review, which will outline plans to increase spending on the UK’s cyberwarfare capability to combat the threat posed by Beijing and Moscow.
Ciaran Martin (pictured) the former CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre has branded Britain’s new China policy ‘confusing’
The 100-page review – Global Britain in a Competitive Age – will be announced by Mr Johnson in a Commons statement.
Responding to the treatment of China as a ‘competitor’, Mr Martin told Times Radio: ‘I think it is a hard problem, there have been some confusing signals. But I think that that’s because it is a difficult challenge.
‘I think now we are realising that China is a huge competitor against the western model, the first we’ve had since the end of the the Cold War, but at the same time on things like climate change, some sort of relationship is needed with China.
‘But there’s going to be an awful lot of difficult choices, you know, what sort of relationships do we have with China and universities? What sort of economic links and so forth?
‘But I think that we will be more cautious on technological dependence on China in the future.’
Boris Johnson last night announced he would equip Britain to meet increasingly complex security challenges by building a ‘cyber corridor’ in the North of England.
The previous head of cyber security at GCHQ, warned the government must be ‘cautious’ on depending on President Xi Jinping for technology
Britain will view Russia as a ‘hostile state’ but treat China largely as a commercial ‘competitor’, a review of UK foreign policy will announce on Tuesday
The review says Russia is the ‘biggest state-based threat’ that the UK faces as a result of its aggressive foreign policy and the state’s use of chemical weapons on UK soil as part of a murder plot, reports The Times.
Yulia Skripal and her double agent father Sergei Skripal, 68, were poisoned with novichok on March 4 2019 after two Russian agents smeared the deadly nerve agent on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s home.
General Sir Patrick Sanders – who oversees cyber, Special Forces and intelligence as head of Strategic Command – said yesterday that the UK needed to focus more on algorithms and cyberwarfare rather than the size of the military and conventional weaponry, with artificial intelligence becoming the nation’s modern deterrence.
The Scripals were poisoned after two Russian agents smeared the deadly nerve agent on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s home. Pictured: Russian agents Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov in Salisbury
The review will aim to persuade the UK’s former EU partners that Britain seeks to remain a vital piece in tackling European security in Nato.
A senior Whitehall source told the newspaper: ‘The principal threat to the UK is from Russia. That’s in there. It doesn’t talk about China in those terms.
‘China is a competitor that tries to steal intellectual property and is a threat to economic security but that’s not the same as what happened in Salisbury.’
Boris Johnson condemned Vladimir Putin over the ‘brazen’ Salisbury attack as the leaders held face-to-face talks in January.
Johnson warned the Russian president there is no prospect of normal relations between the countries until Moscow stops ‘undermining the safety of our citizens and collective security’.
Yulia Skripal (left) and her double agent father Sergei Skripal, 68, (right) were poisoned with novichok on March 4 2019
The bruising encounter between the pair, the first since Mr Johnson took over in Downing Street, came as they attended a summit in Berlin.
A No10 spokeswoman said: ‘The Prime Minister met President Putin in the margins of the Berlin Conference on Libya.
‘He was clear there had been no change in the UK’s position on Salisbury, which was a reckless use of chemical weapons and a brazen attempt to murder innocent people on UK soil. He said that such an attack must not be repeated.’
The UK and its allies blamed Russia for the use of Novichok nerve agent against former agent the Skripals.
Another source said: ‘Russia is a hostile state, China is a global challenge. With China the approach is: compete where necessary, co-operate where possible, counteract when necessary.’
The Prime Minister has been keen to direct new Government investment – including flagship infrastructure projects and Whitehall departments – outside London, as part of his ‘levelling up’ agenda.
The Prime Minister has been keen to direct new Government investment – including flagship infrastructure projects and Whitehall departments – outside London, as part of his ‘levelling up’ agenda
The headquarters of the National Cyber Force (NCF) – created last year to conduct targeted online operations against terrorists, hostile states and criminal gangs – will be situated in the North of England as part of the ‘cyber corridor’.
Manchester has the fastest-growing digital sector in Europe, with 15 per cent of its population employed in the technology sector.
The NCF will build on the work of GCHQ, which already has an office in the city, by merging intelligence and defence specialists under a single, unified command.
Its experts will specialise in areas such as the interruption of hacking attempts by foreign powers, preventing terrorists from communicating with their contacts and protecting military aircraft from targeted weapons systems.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Cyber power is revolutionising the way we live our lives and fight our wars, just as air power did 100 years ago.
‘We need to build up our cyber capability so we can grasp the opportunities it presents, while ensuring those who seek to use its powers to attack us and our way of life are thwarted at every turn.’