OTTAWA, ON (February 23, 2023): Last week, Innovation Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne announced that Canada’s research funding agencies and granting councils are being instructed to screen out all funding applications from Canadian universities and other institutions that are partnering with China on research initiatives.
“The federal government’s decision to stop funding Canadian research projects with Chinese military and security agencies is an overdue move,” says Jonathan Berkshire Miller, Director of Foreign Affairs, National Defence and National Security at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. “It is needed to protect Canadian research and technology from being used against the free world by China and other hostile states.”
Keeping Canadian intellectual and research assets beyond the reach of the Beijing regime is a critical policy shift that has been promoted for several years by MLI experts.
The pressure on Ottawa to take action grew more intense after the Globe and Mail reported last month about extensive collaborations taking place between Canadian universities and Chinese military scientists.
According to Miller, MLI experts have been advocating for the government to establish hard firewall measures to shield Canada’s sensitive research and technology assets from foreign intelligence gatherers.
In recent years, leading media platforms have published alarming insights from numerous Canadian experts, including MLI Senior Fellows Charles Burton and Christian Leuprecht, about research collaborations that have exposed Canada’s security, military, intelligence and scientific communities to high risk from Chinese espionage.
“In the case of China, its intricate manipulation practices have had enormous success in transferring research data from Canadian universities in strategically sensitive areas,” wrote Burton in 2021. “The fact is, China’s interference and espionage activities are hiding in plain sight in our open institutions.”
Back in 2018, Leuprecht pointed out the threat posed by such espionage activities: “Operatives actively disguise their military affiliations, such as claiming to be from non-existent academic institutions, to work in areas such as hypersonic missiles, navigation technology, quantum physics, signal processing, cryptography, and autonomous vehicles.”
More recently, news has emerged about China’s foreign interference in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 federal elections. As Burton has warned, “These sorts of activities, co-ordinated by a hostile power, absolutely should not be tolerated. The RCMP should have long ago been dispatched into action, but we have seen nothing.”
“Last week’s research funding freeze is an important step,” concludes Miller. “The federal government must continue protecting Canada’s interests on the technology and research fronts, especially in an era where China’s relations with the West have dipped to their lowest point in decades.”
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