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National security stories

China luring Canadian scientists for economic, military advantage: CSIS

CSIS has notified a number of institutions about China’s foreign recruitment programs.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has warned universities and researchers that the Chinese government is using research programs to lure Canadian academics and scientists to China with the hope of gaining an economic and military advantage.

According to the Globe and Mail, CSIS claims that the Thousand Talents Plan, which was introduced by China in 2008, is one of the several programs used to gain access to cutting edge Canadian research by Chinese authorities. 

“Academic talent plans are one way to incentivize academics to participate in such activities. While the Thousand Talents Plan is one example, academic talent plans are used by multiple hostile states by other names,” CSIS’ media relations head John Townsend told the Globe and Mail. 

The program has already raised red flags south of the border, after it was revealed that the program lured thousands of US academics to aid China in its military and technology development efforts. 

“Launched in 2008, the Thousand Talents Plan incentivizes individuals engaged in research and development in the United States to transmit the knowledge and research they gain here to China in exchange for monetary payments… China unfairly uses the American research and expertise it obtains for its own economic and military gain,” claimed a US Senate report from 2019. 

According to Townsend, Canada’s intelligence agency has notified a number of institutions about China’s foreign recruitment programs. 

“These corrosive tactics, which are done to advance the economic and strategic objectives of hostile states, come at the expense of Canada’s national interest, including lost jobs, revenue for public services and a diminished competitive global advantage,” Townsend said. 

Research collaboration programs are not the only way China has tried to exploit and target Canadian research. 

Earlier this year, the Communications Security Establishment’s Cyber Centre (CSE) warned the House of Commons industry, science and technology committee that Canada has been targeted by “malicious” foreign cyber attacks, specifically targeting research organizations. 

“We’ve seen some compromises in research organizations that we’ve been helping to mitigate and we’re still continuing to look through what’s the root cause of those,” the head of the CSE Scott Jones told the committee. 

“Yes, we’ve seen activity coming from organizations where they’ve seen malicious activity, or at least suspicious [activity], and we’re working with them to determine whether or not it was malicious, where it came from and who, and was a success or not.”

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