China feared to be targeting army and navy for recruitment
China's regime trying to 'erase every trace' of protest says expert
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The Ministry of Defence has admitted its fears that Beijing is looking to recruit army and navy personnel after it was unveiled earlier this week that the Chinese have been targeting RAF pilots to work for them. While there is no firm evidence to suggest the recruitment drive is so wide, the department believes it would be unwise to rule it out.
At least 30 former fast jet and helicopter pilots have so far been hired by China, tempted by salaries of almost £240,000 a year, it is understood.
It is thought the Chinese are headhunting these service personnel so they can train up its pilots in British and Western military strategy.
Former and serving F-35 jet and Typhoon pilots as well as those capable of flying Merlin and Wildcats have been targeted.
The Times reported that one former RAF mechanical engineer is now working in China for a company used by the Chinese Government for these hiring practices.
He was recruited by the Test Flying Academy of South Africa as an “operations manager”, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Yesterday it was stressed that the government in South Africa was not affiliated with these companies.
Those in “sensitive” roles such as submariners may also be on Beijing’s hitlist.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had been in contact with those who had been recruited.
He said: “It’s our expectation they would not continue to be part of that organisation.
“We are going to put into law that once people have been given that warning it will become an offence to go forward and continue with that training.
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“China is a competitor that is threatening the UK interest in many places around the world.
“It is also an important training partner but there is no secret in their attempt to gain access to our secrets, and their recruitment of our pilots in order to understand the capabilities of our air force is clearly a concern to us and the intelligence part of the MoD.”
A Western official said of those pilots that have taken up positions with Beijing: “In supporting this training, these personnel are almost certainly enhancing China’s military knowledge and capability.
“Without us taking action, this activity would almost certainly cause harm to the UK and our allies’ defence advantage.”
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