China Accused of Stealing Research From Canadian Universities for Military Use

Janny Wang - 2A Nanotechnology Engineering
Posted on: November 14, 2018

According to a recent report by the Globe and Mail, Canadian universities – including the University of Waterloo – may have been inadvertently collaborating with Chinese scholars with strong military or Party ties. The resultant research oft produces ‘dual-use’ technology, which might be adapted for a knockoff iPhone or a missile control system.

A major security concern is posed by the fact that Chinese researchers have a habit of obscuring their affiliations with any organizations that might be considered less than kosher by Canadian security. An entire fictitious institute exists for this purpose; the Zhengzhou Information Science and Technology Institute is worthily attested to in over 1,300 peer reviewed articles, but seems skimpier on the brick-and-mortar side of reality. Other researchers simply use the more banal method of neglecting to mention military affiliations.

One stand out example of this duplicity is Yu Hong-Yi, an optics expert and veteran of Sino- Canadian collaboration. He is a member of the reverend Zhengzhou Institute, and either a Colonel of the People’s Liberation Army or an unlikely cosplayer.

A wide array of fields have been targeted by Chinese military intelligence, including materials science, quantum physics, and information technology. This strategy is poetically called and ineptly translated as “picking flowers in foreign lands to make honey in China”. One missive issued by the PRC urged graduate students going abroad to consider the potential value of their research to the Chinese military and plan out their studies accordingly.

Canadian universities do not seem to be in the business of performing background checks on foreign researchers; potential security risks, they say, are the domain of the federal government. The federal government has not said anything.

China, for its part, settled any concerns one might nurse by insisting that the accusations were “ridiculous and groundless”.

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