UK's GCHQ chief says China could win control of the world's 'operating system'

GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming delivers a speech as he meets with Britain's Queen Elizabeth during her visit at the Watergate House to mark the centenary of the GCHQ (Government Communications Head Quarters) in London, Britain, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool

LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - The West must urgently act to ensure that China does not dominate the key technologies of the 21st Century or the Communist state could effectively grab control of the world's global operating system, Britain's top cyber spy said on Friday.

"The threat posed by Russia’s activity is like finding a vulnerability on a specific app on your phone – it’s potentially serious, but you can probably use an alternative," GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming told Imperial College London.

"However, the concern is that China’s size and technological weight means that it has the potential to control the global operating system," he said.

"States like China are early implementors of many of the emerging technologies that are changing the digital environment," Fleming said. "They have a competing vision for the future of cyberspace and are playing strongly into the debate around international rules and standards."

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton

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