China’s interference and espionage activities are hiding in plain sight in our open institutions, writes Charles Burton in the Ottawa Citizen. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Charles Burton, May 18, 2021
Canada’s free society is based on cultural expectations of reciprocal fairness and goodwill in our dealings with fellow citizens. This is what makes Canada a great place to live, and so attractive to immigrants. But our trusting nature is also vulnerable to being exploited by foreign actors with agendas that threaten our security and sovereignty.
In the case of China, its intricate manipulation practices have had enormous success in transferring research data from Canadian universities in strategically sensitive areas that serve PRC purposes. According to former CSIS director Richard Fadden, these areas include avionics, space technology, nuclear science and high-level optics research.
The fact is, China’s interference and espionage activities are hiding in plain sight in our open institutions. We need transparency about what these activities comprise, which Canadians are receiving benefits from agents of foreign states, and what form these benefits take.
Recent and troubling media reports reveal that, in 2018, the China Institute at the University of Alberta accepted a major donation from Hong Kong-based billionaire Jonathan Koon-Shum Choi, but refuses to disclose the size of Mr. Choi’s gift, the purposes to which the money has been allocated, and who are the de facto beneficiaries of this largesse.
Choi is a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), part of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), whose main mission is to gain outside support for Beijing’s political agenda.
As the U of A is a public institution, surely Alberta taxpayers deserve transparency regarding any money that supports or influences the university’s research.