Jeremy Fleming told a British defense studies body that the Chinese Communist Party views technologies such as satellite systems and digital currencies as a “tool to gain advantage.”
Fleming said China could act in ways representing “a huge threat to us all” and the UK and its allies need to respond urgently.
“At GCHQ it is our privilege and duty to see the sliding door moments of history. This feels like one of those moments. Our future strategic technology advantage rests on what we as a community do next. I’m confident that together we can tilt that in our collective favour,” he said.
Fleming has headed the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) since 2017 and has sought to bring the intelligence, cyber, and security agency out of the shadows.
His comments come as China is in the process of launching its “digital yuan,” raising fears that authoritarian countries could use digital currency to increase surveillance and control.
A centralised digital currency could “enable China to partially evade the sort of international sanctions currently being applied to President Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia,” Fleming said
China has also launched a satellite navigation system, Beidou, as a rival to American GPS, compelling Chinese citizens to use it, Fleming said
“Many believe that China is building a powerful anti-satellite capability, with a doctrine of denying other nations access to space in the event of a conflict,” he will add.
“And there are fears the technology could be used to track individuals.”