Britain Postpones New Army Cap Badges Over Concerns About Chinese Spying

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

The British army has put a hold on mandatory changes to cap badges due to concerns that the new insignia might contain Chinese tracking devices. This worry stems from the fact that Wyedean Weaving, the company contracted to make the badges, utilizes factories in China for some of its manufacturing processes, as reported by the Financial Times on Saturday.

Certain British military regiments incorporate headdresses adorned with badges featuring a royal crest, complete with a crown or the current monarch’s initials. Traditionally, these badges are redesigned when a new sovereign ascends the throne. The need for this change arose with the accession of King Charles III, who opted for the Tudor Crown for his cipher instead of the St. Edward’s Crown favored by his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II.

According to the FT, the standard procedure of switching the badges was halted when it came to light that Wyedean Weaving, based in Yorkshire, relies on factories in China for some of its manufacturing. A senior UK defense official, speaking to the news outlet, expressed concerns 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.

When asked to comment on the report, the UK Defense Ministry stated that “the procurement of new cap badges will happen once their requirements are finalized,” without offering any elaboration on the spying fears. The Chinese Embassy in London did not respond to a request for comment, as reported by the FT.

Susannah Walbank, Wyedean’s systems director, confirmed the company’s collaboration with China but declined to comment on the spying concerns.

“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 awaiting final approval from the British authorities to begin manufacturing.

Last month, several UK lawmakers pointed to Beijing as the culprit behind a data breach affecting the armed forces’ payroll system. In March, London formally accused Chinese “state-affiliated actors” of orchestrating cyberattacks against the UK Electoral Commission in 2021-22.

Similar incidents in the past led the UK to ban the installation of new equipment produced by Chinese tech firm Huawei in local 5G networks in 2021. China has repeatedly refuted the accusations of espionage.15:44