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MI6 chief thanks China for ‘free publicity’ after James Bond spoof

In an unusual turn of events, Britain’s spy chief has thanked China for “unexpected free publicity” after it released a spoof James Bond video ridiculing western intelligence agencies.

The clip, posted online by the state news agency Xinhua earlier this week, blasts MI6 and the CIA for their approach to China, which has become an increasingly large concern for both the UK and the US in recent years.

In November, Richard Moore, who runs MI6, said China was the British spy agency’s “single greatest priority”, explaining how other countries were at risk of “debt traps, data exposure and vulnerability to political coercion” from Beijing.

He also mentioned the use of mass surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Xinjiang province, where it is accused of perpetrating widespread human rights abuses against the Uyghur population.

“Worryingly, these technologies of control and surveillance are increasingly being exported to other governments by China: expanding the web of authoritarian control around the planet,” he added.

Replying to China’s Bond parody on Wednesday evening, Mr Moore tweeted: “Thank you for your interest (and the unexpected free publicity!).”

The tongue-in-cheek video – named “No Time to Die Laughing” – opens with two fictional British spies James Pond and Black Window, codenamed 0.07 and 0.06, arriving at a castle.

The pair discuss and then lay into MI6’s strategy against China. “You know what’s pathetic? Using the fictional Chinese debt trap and data trap as an excuse to secure our massive budget for next year,” Mr Pond says.

The spoof, which is heavy on prerecorded laughter, also alludes to Britain’s decision to ban the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from its 5G network rollout, with M, an imagined CIA operative, dialling in to warn his British counterparts against using the company’s phones.

Instead, M tells them to use the CIA-friendly phones he has sent, while admitting he has tapped Mr Pond’s phone and is spying on the UK.

“To be America’s enemy is dangerous. But to be America’s friend is fatal,” Mr Pond laments.

Diplomatic relations between the west and China continue to be strained amid criticism of the CCP’s human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Officials from countries including the Australia, Canada, the UK and the US – though not the teams themselves – are boycotting next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics, a diplomatic move that China has dismissed as “political posturing and manipulation”.

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