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UK delays new army cap badges over China spying fears – FT

The insignia needs to be redesigned following the accession of King Charles III

The British army has postponed mandatory changes to cap badges over fears the new insignia could carry Chinese tracking devices, as the company contracted to make them works with factories in China, the Financial Times reported on Saturday, citing sources.

The outfits of some UK military regiments include headdresses featuring a badge with a royal crest, complete with a crown or the current monarch’s initials. It is a tradition to redesign the badges when a new sovereign comes to power. The change became necessary upon the accession to the throne of King Charles III, and his choice of the Tudor Crown for his cipher instead of the St. Edward’s Crown favored by his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II.

According to FT, the standard procedure of switching the badges came to a standstill when it became known that the Yorkshire-based company contracted to make the new insignia, Wyedean Weaving, uses factories in China for some of its manufacturing needs. According to a senior UK defense official who spoke to the news outlet, “there is a fear that tracking devices or a GPS transmitter could be embedded in the cap badges.”

“The result is a delay in the introduction of the cap badges as the UK does not have the capacity to manufacture them as quickly or as cheaply,” the official stated.

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Asked to comment on the report, the UK Defense Ministry said, “the procurement of new cap badges will happen once their requirements are finalized,” without elaborating on the spying fears. The Chinese Embassy in London did not respond to a request for comment, FT reported.

Susannah Walbank, Wyedean’s systems director, confirmed that the company has been working with China, but did not comment on the spying fears.

“China is part of our supply chains, we have been there for 15 years, have long-standing relationships, and there has never been any concern,” she stated, noting that the new cap badges would be made “in a mix of places, including China,” and that her company was waiting for final approval from the British authorities to begin manufacturing.

Last month, several UK lawmakers pointed at Beijing when the payroll system of the armed forces was targeted in a data hack. In March, London formally accused Chinese “state-affiliated actors” of being behind cyberattacks on the UK Electoral Commission in 2021-22.


READ MORE: Hong Kong lashes out at UK over ‘spy’ claims

Similar incidents in the past prompted the UK to ban the installation of new equipment made by Chinese tech firm Huawei in local 5G networks in 2021. China has repeatedly denied the spying accusations.15:44

June 15, 2024 at 05:58PM
RT

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