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Iain Duncan Smith today revealed that intelligence chiefs have warned he is under ‘active and direct threat’ from the Chinese state.

The former Cabinet minister, a strident critic of the regime in Beijing, said he had been told to be ‘very careful’ and offered extra support from the UK authorities.

However, he also demanded to know how long ministers had known about the situation, and why they had not informed him before.

Speaking in a debate on China, Sir Iain said his work with the Interparliamentary Alliance on China had made him a target.

‘I understand now there is intelligence from the Five Eyes sources that there is now a very active and direct threat from the Chinese government aimed directly at the co-chairs of the Interparliamentary Alliance on China,’ he said. 

Iain Duncan Smith said he had been told to be 'very careful' and offered extra support from the UK authorities

Iain Duncan Smith said he had been told to be 'very careful' and offered extra support from the UK authorities

Iain Duncan Smith said he had been told to be ‘very careful’ and offered extra support from the UK authorities

‘Some of these co-chairs, of which I am one, have now been warned by their intelligence services in receipt of this that they should be very careful and that they will be supported.’

He said to foreign office minister James Cleverly: ‘Can I ask if his Government is in receipt of this same intelligence and if so, why have they not informed the co-chairs and others here in the UK like other allies have done?’

Mr Cleverly replied: ‘He will understand that we don’t discuss on the floor of the Chamber intelligence-related issues, but I take the point that he makes about making sure that people who are potentially a target of overseas intelligence actions are given the opportunity to defend themselves against those.’

The claims emerged as China hit out at the UK and other western nations for ‘groundless and irresponsible’ accusations that it was behind major ‘systematic cyber sabotage’.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said yesterday that Chinese state-backed groups were responsible for a ‘reckless’ attack on Microsoft Exchange servers earlier this year.

Widespread frustration was shared by the US, Canada, EU, Australia, New Zealand and Nato, who all called for an end to such behaviour.

Officials claim the attack was highly likely to enable ‘large-scale espionage’, including acquiring personal information and intellectual property.

At least 30,000 organisations around the world have been affected.

The Chinese embassy in the UK said the claims are a ‘sheer fabrication and slander’.

Sir Iain revealed that intelligence chiefs have warned he is under 'active and direct threat' from the Chinese state. Pictured, president Xi Jinping speaks via video at an event last month

Sir Iain revealed that intelligence chiefs have warned he is under 'active and direct threat' from the Chinese state. Pictured, president Xi Jinping speaks via video at an event last month

Sir Iain revealed that intelligence chiefs have warned he is under ‘active and direct threat’ from the Chinese state. Pictured, president Xi Jinping speaks via video at an event last month

‘The Chinese side is gravely concerned and strongly opposed to this,’ a spokesperson said.

‘We call on the UK side to immediately stop echoing the groundless and irresponsible accusation against China.

‘China is a staunch defender of cyber security and a main victim of cyber thefts and attacks.’

Sir Iain said: ‘This is the latest form of Chinese attacks, not a one-off on the West, which has included espionage, economic sanctions against Australia, wolf warrior diplomacy, and its naval aggression in the South China Sea, but to name a few.

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