Some UK ministers have voiced concern that the reliance on Chinese-made electric vehicles in the country’s push for net-zero emissions could be a threat to security, the UK Telegraph reported.
With UK auto companies facing zero-emissions quotas starting next year to meet the target to ban internal combustion vehicles by 2030, China is expected to dominate the UK market.
But sources within the government are concerned that the technology built into Chinese-made vehicles could enable Beijing to spy on UK citizens by harvesting information, like location data, video footage, and audio recordings, while also making them vulnerable to remote interference.
A bipartisan group of MPs recently warned the government that the UK could be ceding control of its automobile “critical infrastructure” to Bejing, leading to “security risks.”
Since China is a global force in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries, the prospect of the UK being deluged with Chinese-made electric vehicles has increased concerns about security risks.
One senior government official told the UK Telegraph that it is impossible to know if electric vehicles manufactured in China are collecting intelligence and data. He said if the vehicles are manufactured in a country known to use technology for spying, “why would they not do the same here?”
Describing Chinese-made vehicles as “high-risk products,” the official said China “always thinks in very long terms.” He said if China is providing a product that does more than help a consumer get from one place to another, why wouldn’t it use that product to collect data?
He said such data would be valuable to China and “quite dangerous” to the UK.
The UK’s quest for net-zero emissions has become a central battleground between the conservative Tory party and Labour, with some conservative MPs urging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to take a more cautious approach.