Britain’s MI6 Spy Chief Says China Is the Agency’s ‘Single Greatest Priority’

Richard Moore also named Russia and Iran as threats to the UK

The head of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, said Tuesday that China is the spy agency’s “single greatest priority,” reflecting the view of top spy officials in the US.

Richard Moore, who became MI6 chief in October 2020, said China, Russia, Iran, and terrorism make up the “big four” security challenges facing the British spy agency. Moore said a “miscalculation” from China concerning the US’s power could lead to war.

“Beijing believes its own propaganda about Western frailties and under-estimates Washington’s resolve,” he said. “The risk of Chinese miscalculation through overconfidence is real.” Repeating a common talking point coming out of Washington, Moore said China is “an authoritarian state with different values than ours.”

The CIA, MI6’s American counterpart, recently created a new spy center to focus exclusively on China. When announcing the new center, CIA Director William Burns labeled China as the “most important geopolitical threat” facing the US.

Concerning Russia, Moore said the UK is facing an “acute threat” from Moscow. “We and our allies and partners must stand up to and deter Russian activity which contravenes the international rules-based system,” he said.

The “rules-based system” or “order” is a new phrase frequently used by the US and its allies that essentially means the US-dominated global order that Washington feels is threatened by Chinese and Russian influence.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.