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Hong Kong Intelligence Report #128 A Lesson on the Three Hong Kong Spies in the UK

Updated: Jun 10

Open-source intelligence (OSINT)

Hong Kong Intelligence Report #128 A Lesson on the Three Hong Kong Spies in UK
FILE PHOTO: Using walkie-talkie in front of computer © Envato

🇬🇧 🇭🇰 🔻 IMPORTANT 【重要】Hong Kong Spies


▪️ After the two critical moments in the entire history of Hong Kong in the post-COVID phase, one is that HKSARG irrationally lifted the curbs on the extremely monopolized housing market on February 28, 2024, and the other one is implementation of SNSO on March 23, 2024, which politically exchanged with the former, the most interesting incident that occurred in the sphere of Hong Kong politics, was undoubtedly the news of the arrests of the three Hong Kong spies in the UK on May 13, 2024. However, the social meaning of the incident is still not correctly realized by any paid ideologues of both camps. And public opinion has fallen into brain-dead propaganda instead of understanding or reasoning. Thus, it is necessary to write about it briefly according to the open sources available to everybody.

 

▪️ First, the UK has nothing wrong with law enforcement and professionally dealing with supposed crimes at present. There is nothing conspiratory behind it, while the UK intelligence community, like any other IC of any country or region, has closely been monitoring the movement of HKETO from the beginning, even though ETO has been reduced to the PR role outside of Hong Kong with diplomatic immunity to the designated staff roles yet without diplomatic rights in the whole establishment of China for years. Besides, the total response from HKSARG is that they did nothing wrong with it, thus there will never be any change in the role of ETOs. Thus, the public discussion ended with the authorities and rubber stamps.  


▪️ Second, on the positive side, the incident proved that the Security Bureau and Hong Kong Police did their jobs in terms of overseas oppositionists. Thus, nothing significant has happened recently. This should be objectively and fairly mentioned by citizens. Moreover, the incident showed us how Hong Kong's intelligence operates overseas. HKETOs have become a haven as the equilibrium of embassies to coordinate intelligence ops. The specialty of Hong Kong is that these intelligence forces are just police or police-related security business handlers. This is in contrast to other ICs. While there are independent intelligence agencies that freely act outside the traditional and ordinary police department even though they are law enforcement, some have only rights to investigation, while others also have rights to policing, and making arrests. However, the so-called ‘Hong Kong intelligence’ is the police force if it doesn’t count the Office for Safeguarding National Security, which belongs to the CCP. In general, the case officer, a contact person is the ETO manager, and operatives are, unlike CCP, in custom, HKSARG simply outsources it to Security Bureau-HKPF-related security business companies often run by one man, the operative himself. In this case, those companies (Matthew’s MTR and Wai’s D5) are registered in the UK establishment. Thus, it is smoothly tractable, searchable, and very easily identifiable, unlike the professional covert operations of the Five Eyes in which they use unregistered publicly unknown personnel. Here, we already see the problem lying in this structure. The Crony capitalism of HKSARG, in this case, the security business sector is the most intimate and most profitable private sector for the Security Bureau (governs the security business sector) and HKPF for the revolving door. Thus, many were systematically parachuted into the sector or even some of them were executives of security companies while serving HKSARG as incumbent officers. One such example is Wai, Peter Chi Leung. In short, they use security companies as operatives.

 

▪️ Third, the nature of the entire incident is that some corporatists privately exploited the national security operative line for a purely private motive. The suspect is Tina Zou, a typical multinational speculator of real estate, who used the national security resources of HKSARG as a debt collector in the UK. This distortion or disruption directly led to the disastrous arrests; hence it has nothing to do with MI5 or GCHQ conspiracy of James Bond kind. The UK could have kept monitoring the ETO if the Tina-Yuen-Wai-Peter line had not caused the terrible infringement. Again, the critical point is that the national security operative was used as a debt collector for private disputes. Unlike clients of the NSA for unmanned mass surveillance, in this case, the active operative for national security goals outside of Hong Kong was used as a debt collector for the private motive of the speculator. This crony capitalism, unrestrained exploitation of public resources, and governmental structure for private use is the true and real problem revealed by the incident. In other words, the incident was caused by the structural feature of HKSARG itself, crony capitalism.

 

▪️ Before the May incident, both the UK and the US publicly warned and seriously mentioned transnational repression which is about de facto overseas law-enforcement by Hong Kong or Chinese authorities against opposition. When the category was indicated publicly, the subsequent law enforcement in current cases in this category was rationally eminent. At that time, the current HKSARG didn’t realize the creeping danger.


📌🔻 NEWS / FACTs 【新聞/事實】


▪️ The British government has recently (May 13th) charged three men, one of whom is Yuen, Bill Chung Biu, the executive manager of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, under the National Security Act. According to the facts of the case, the crime of "assisting an overseas intelligence agency" involves the three men allegedly monitoring the wanted social activists Nathan Law, Christopher Mung, and Finn Lau; the crime of "interfering outside the country" refers to the defendant's involvement in forcing his way into a British residential address, which was originally involved in a cross-border debt collection of more than a billion dollars, and this action resulted in the arrests of the three men.


The spy case was suspected to have been "triggered" by a debt collection operation. The Collective HK summarizes the prosecution's case and information on Hong Kong and mainland company registrations to track down the person behind the debt collection, suspected to be Tina Zou (also known as Tian Tian and Tian Jing), a Hong Kong ID cardholder who claimed to be the founder of TWT Property Group, an Australian multinational investment group, and whose mother, Wang Yuzhu, owns several investment companies in the mainland. The reporter visited the address of their registered company in Hong Kong and found that the office was located in a Grade B commercial building in Wan Chai and no one answered the door, while the registered address of another charitable foundation was a secretarial company. 


🔗 Link


▪️ Yes, that's the UK NSA, not the PRC NSA imposed on HK. Bill Yuen Chung Biu is an ex-HK Police officer now working as an Office Manager in the HK London Trade Office. Public data show that he joined the Police on 21-Aug-1978 aged 18, and progressed to Chief Inspector on 15-Nov-1990 and Superintendent on 3-Aug-1998. The other 2 defendants are UK company directors in the Webb-site Database.

 

Trickett, Matthew Peter : MTR CONSULTANCY LTD - Company number 13309462 🔗 Link

List of licensed security companies

🔗 Link


Wai, Peter Chi Leung : D5 SECURITY LIMITED - Company number 11152297 🔗 Link


Yuen, Bill Chung Biu 🔗 Link

 

🔗 Link


▪️ A former Royal Marine charged with assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service has been found dead, police have said. Matthew Trickett, 37, a Home Office immigration officer, appeared in court charged under the National Security Act last week. He was found by a member of the public in a park in Maidenhead, Berkshire, on Sunday, Thames Valley Police said. His death is being treated as unexplained and a post-mortem examination will be carried out in due course, the force added.

 

[…]  Mr Trickett was a Home Office immigration officer, who had previously served as a Royal Marine for six years. He was also the director of a security firm called MTR Consultancy.

Last week, he was charged along with Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, under the National Security Act with assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service and foreign interference.


Between 20 December 2023 and 2 May, they are accused of agreeing to undertake information gathering, surveillance, and acts of deception that were likely to materially assist a foreign intelligence service.


It is also alleged they forced entry into a UK residence on 1 May.

 

The three accused men spoke only to confirm their identities during their court appearance.

 

🔗 Link


▪️ Last month, two British men were charged with spying for China and breaching the Official Secrets Act. According to police, Christopher Cash, a former parliamentary researcher, and Christopher Berry, a teacher, “obtained, collected, recorded, published, or communicated” information that was determined to either be or potentially be, “directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy.” 


US President Joe Biden’s administration has also repeatedly accused China of state-backed hacking and cybercrime. The Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US previously accused Beijing of intellectual property theft and of using artificial intelligence for hacking and spying against the nations in the group.  


Hong Kong operates 14 economic and trade offices around the world. They aim to advance the city’s economic interests and promote foreign investment in Hong Kong.


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▪️ Bill Yuen, who manages Hong Kong’s Economic and Trade Office in London, and two other men, Peter Wei and Matthew Trickett, were granted bail when they appeared in a London courtroom Monday. They are accused of “agreeing to undertake information gathering, surveillance, and acts of deception” between December 2023 and May 2024. The charges were brought under Britain’s new National Security Act.


Chief Executive Lee has denied the allegations. During a press briefing Tuesday, he warned that any attempt “to interfere with the work of ETO offices in different places will be against free trade and free economy,” and would harm the economies of countries that “try and do bad things” to ETO offices.


Hong Kong leader criticizes Britain after arrest of trade official in London.


🔗 Link

 

▪️ Eight other men were also arrested by counterterrorism police this month under the act, but they were released without charges.

 

"While these offenses are concerning, I want to reassure the public that we do not believe there to be any wider threat to them," Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said in a statement.

 

3 men charged with helping Hong Kong intelligence appear in UK court.


🔗 Link


▪️ 3 men charged with helping Hong Kong intelligence appear in UK court.


According to the British indictment, the two defendants, Wai, Peter Chi Leung, and Matthew Trickett, received money from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London for monitoring and controlling Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in the United Kingdom, including former Demosisto Chairperson, Nathan Law and former Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) General Secretary, Christopher Mung, and the two were contacted through Yuen, Bill Chung Biu, and the three of them were released on bail yesterday, with a further hearing to be held on May 24th.


🔗 Link


▪️ British police on Monday (May 13th) announced the indictment of three men suspected of violating the UK's National Security Act 2023 by assisting Hong Kong intelligence agencies and carrying out foreign interference. Court documents show that the defendants' criminal activities involved carrying out hostile activities in the United Kingdom to assist foreign intelligence agencies, and that the defendant, Yuen, Bill Chung Biu, who is the Executive Manager of the Hong Kong SAR Government's Economic and Trade Office in London and appeared to have the authority to collect intelligence on behalf of foreign intelligence agencies, commissioned his co-defendants Wai, Peter Chi Leung and Matthew Trickett to carry out specific hostile activities, including the collection of intelligence, and to carry out foreign interference. He commissioned co-defendants Chi Leung Wai (Wai Chi Leung) and Matthew Trickett to carry out specified hostile activities, including intelligence gathering, hostile surveillance, deception, and forcible entry into the target's United Kingdom home address, the primary targets of which were believed to be Hong Kong residents in the United Kingdom.


The indictment alleges that Yuen played an integral role in the hostile activities against the state. The cell phone records of Yuen and Wai showed that Yuen had an operational relationship with Wai on behalf of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, with conversations referring to "our enemies" and the need to eliminate "hatred," and that Matthew Trickett was a major contributor to the operation, with his cell phone containing multiple records of the surveillance operation. The financial records of the defendants also show that D5 Security, a security company run by Wai, Peter Chi Leung, received three payments totaling £95,500 (HK$932,000) from the bank account of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in London between June 5 last year and January 31 of this year and that D5 Security almost immediately re-directed the payments to several people, including Matthew Trickett's security company, MTR Consultancy.


As shown in the cross-examination records, Yuen was interviewed four times after his arrest. He said he had served in the Hong Kong Police Force for 37 years and retired at the age of 55 as a superintendent. He now lives in the UK with his wife and children and said he "prefers the UK to Hong Kong". He said he was friends with Wai, whom he had known for four years, and that he was responsible for the security of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (ETO) in London and for Hong Kong officials when they visited the United Kingdom. Yuen explained that his job at the ETO was not only administrative but also security and that all the security work was arranged by Mr. Wai. Yuen admitted that he had transferred money to Wai on three occasions because he was unable to make international transfers from his bank account.


🔗 Link


▪️ Records of telephone messages between Yuen, Executive Manager of the London HKETO, and Wai show that they have been monitoring Nathan Law, who is wanted by the Hong Kong government, since 2021. The conversation included references to "our enemy" and the need to eliminate "hatred". Yuen's phone also contained photos of people who had participated in protests against China or the Hong Kong government. Another defendant, Matthew Trickett, a former member of the Royal Navy, was responsible for carrying out the surveillance, which included Finn Lau, a " Laam2 Caau2 Baa1", and Christopher Mung, the former Secretary General of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). His telephone number contains the date of the surveillance and information on the price he quoted to Wai for services such as tracking targets on the Internet, checking addresses, and making house calls. He also provided and charged for services through a person named "Pete" to a client known as "ETO", whom the prosecution identified as Wai and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) respectively.


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❗️🔻 COMMENT 【評語】

 

In conclusion, the incident of three Hong Kong spies charged in the UK in May 2024 was caused by the structural malignancy of HKSARG, crony capitalism. In this case, a wealthy speculator from the Mainland exploited a national security operative as a debt collector for a private dispute. This unrestrained private use of the governmental force totally outside designated public purposes caused the most unprofessional disaster in this field.

 



 

Hong Kong Intelligence Report #128 A Lesson on the Three Hong Kong Spies in UK

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