Is China spying on Britain with EVs? That’s the question being asked around Europe, as concern grows over the use of electric vehicles with made-in-China components. While the governments of the world focus on emissions from cow and car alike, the CCP may be getting personal and sensitive information from British customers.
Is China Spying on Britain?
UK officials fear that electric cars imported to the UK from China to help hit net zero targets will enable Beijing to spy on British citizens. The technology used in some EV components could, they argue, also collect sensitive data, like location, video footage, and audio recordings – or even allow the car to be controlled remotely. A senior government source told The Telegraph:
“If it is manufactured in a country like China, how certain can you be that it won’t be a vehicle for collecting intel and data? If you have electric vehicles manufactured by countries who are already using technology to spy, why would they not do the same here?
“They are high-risk products. We know that China always thinks in very long terms. So if they were providing a product that could do more than just deliver the consumer’s desire to go from A to B, why would they not be doing it?
“It will be used with all of the data that they collect, and that’s how it becomes incredibly valuable and quite dangerous.”
Surveilling or controlling a car by remote seems like something out of a science fiction or spy movie, but, according to some officials, the danger is very real. It is possible through cellular modules, which are small components found in many devices including computers and EV chargers. They are used to create internet connections to transfer data. These modules also monitor and control car systems and process software updates. “China dominates the global market in supply of the modules, with components from the country also embedded in non-Chinese companies’ products,” The Telegraph explained.
Charles Parton, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and former British diplomat who spent 22 years specializing in China, told the outlet that China could use that technology to extract “massive amounts of data,” while also commanding the cars to “operate in a malicious way.” Furthermore, he opined:
“Let’s suppose that I buy a car with one of these Chinese modules in and I’ve been invited to give a talk at a defence establishment. If that car has cameras, they could use the modules to switch on the cameras and take the data.
“Ultimately you’ve got to ban any Chinese module in any vehicle, and you’d have to do it quite quickly.”
How are the Chinese Dominating the Market?
In Europe, car companies have to meet quotas for “zero-emission” sales starting next year and by 2030, a ban on new gas, petrol, and diesel vehicles will go into effect.
As in America, Britain does not have the resources necessary to produce so many EVs in such a short time, which means it has to rely on other countries to provide the materials, namely China. “China overtook Japan as the largest auto exporter in the world last quarter,” according to a May article from The Wall Street Journal. “Surging exports to Russia gave the country’s car exports a big bump. But the strength of China’s electric vehicle ecosystem is also an important factor driving the trend.”
The Journal reported that China exported 1.07 million vehicles in the first quarter of this year which is a 58% increase from last year. “In comparison, Japan shipped 950,000 vehicles abroad during the quarter.” The sanctions against Russia have contributed to China’s growth with vehicles and auto parts exports from the country to Russia more than tripling in the first four months of this year to $6.1 billion.
China is the largest exporter of electronic vehicles. About 35% of EVs exported globally came from China last year, according to The Journal, compared with 25% in 2021. “China exported around 335,000 new-energy passenger vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, in the first four months of this year – more than twice the number in the same period in 2022 … That accounted for roughly 30% of passenger cars exported from China in January to April 2023.”
Are Britain’s concerns justified, and should not Americans be worried too? How many of these modules are already in our homes, appliances, and other items? Do the Democrats and climate activists take these national security risks in mind when forcing Americans to go green?
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