China is aiming for "global technological supremacy" in cyberspace and is using its cyber capabilities to conduct intelligence and surveillance campaigns, Britain's cyber chief said on Wednesday.
Lindy Cameron, director of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping spy agency, said Britain had a "legitimate concern" about the effects Chinese technology may have on cybersecurity.
"China is not only pushing for parity with Western countries, it is aiming for global technological supremacy," Cameron told an annual government cybersecurity conference in Belfast.
"Bluntly, we cannot afford not to keep pace with China. Otherwise, we risk China becoming the predominant power in cyberspace."
China is also using its cyber capabilities to acquire intellectual property, achieve its strategic geopolitical goals, and conduct global spying campaigns, Cameron added.
Last month, Britain banned the use of TikTok on government phones, following other Western countries in barring the Chinese-owned video app over security concerns.
TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny due to fears that user data from the app owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, undermining Western security interests.
The United States, Canada, Belgium and the European Commission have also banned the app from official devices.
China has characterised the bans as politically motivated. Beijing routinely denies any involvement in hacking and says it punishes those who do. (Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Nick Macfie)