Justin Trudeau’s love for China Puts Canadians at Risk. Justin Trudeau had announced on 12-May 2020 that Canada had struck an agreement with the Tianjin-based firm to conduct another phase 1 trial, which essentially measures whether the vaccine is safe and generates an immune response, followed if successful by phase 2 and 3 trials here.
However, Chinese scientists who were working on a vaccine partnership with Canada were part of a government program to transfer research and knowledge to Beijing.
Former officials with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service CSIS said that it’s likely that scientists with CanSino Biologics were Chinese assets despite being educated in Canada.
The federal government first revealed earlier this year that the National Research Council (NRC) had agreed to partner with the Chinese company, however, the deal fell apart in August, when China refused to share vaccine samples with Canada.
Now, members within the Five Eyes intelligence network – including Canada, the US and Australia – are investigating CanSino’s founders on the suspicion that they’re a part of China’s “Thousand Talents Plan” recruitment effort. CanSino Biologics is working alonside the Chinese military’s medical-science division — it has surprisingly deep roots in this country.
The vaccine is based on a cell line developed by the National Research Council (NRC). The company CanSino Biologics has worked with the NRC previously on an Ebola vaccine, and with scientists at the council and McMaster University on a tuberculosis shot. More recently, it partnered with a Vancouver-based bio technology company that came up with its own COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The NRC has said that CanSino no longer had the authority to ship the vaccine for trials to Canada. Those trials were to be held at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which had also shared its research expertise with the Chinese firm.
NRC said that the agreement had been reviewed by CanSino’s collaborators in the Chinese Government – the Beijing Institute of Technology and the Ministry of Science and Technology. The vaccine is being tested on soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army, while it was scheduled to have had human trials in Halifax.
Chinese Thousand Talents Program
Intelligence authorities believe that the “Thousand Talents” program is an effort by the Chinese government to recruit foreign scientists and funnel research into the mainland for the purpose of advancing Chinese military and technological interests.
Scientists and researchers are seduced into the program through “salaries, research funding, lab space and other incentives,” a 2019 US Senate report claims.
Both CanSino CEO Dr. Xuefeng Yu and the company’s executive director Dr. Tao Zhu worked in Canada before starting their own company.
According to a website at the Canada Chinese Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Association, a 2011 report identifies Dr. Zhu as a member who was selected through the “Thousand Talents” project in 2010.
“The Chinese intelligence services have developed several concepts for repatriating information, and what better vehicle than to bring back someone that was educated abroad and understands the so-called ‘enemy’” former CSIS Asia-Pacific agent Juneau Katsuya told Global News.
“This talent recruitment is systematically supported by the United Front Work Department, and other departments. But the United Front in particular, is responsible for trying to repatriate valuable Chinese people, like Dr. Yu.”
According to Katsuya, the Canadian government ignored red flags around CanSino Biologics before agreeing to partner with the company.
“The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and NRC has been abused by China before in this way, and that is why this case is so offensive,” said Katsuya.
“In this case it looks like what China did, is they got what they needed (from Canada) and they stopped the vaccine shipment. This neutralizes the ability for Canada to participate in developing the vaccine.”
The Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) was established in 2008 by the central government of China to recognize and recruit leading international experts in scientific research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Both the United States and Canada have warned that China intends to use scientists who are involved with this plan to gain access to new technology for economic and military advantage.
1000 Talent Plan professorship is the highest academic honor awarded by the State Council, analogous to the top-level award given by the Ministry of Education. The program includes two mechanisms: resources for permanent recruitment into Chinese academia, and resources for short-term appointments that typically target international experts who have full-time employment at a leading international university or research laboratory.
The Thousand Talents program primarily targets Chinese citizens who were educated in elite programs overseas and who have been successful as entrepreneurs, professionals, and researchers. The program also recognizes a small number of elite foreign-born experts with skills that are critical to China’s international competitiveness in science and innovation. International experts in the latter category are typically winners of major prizes such as the Nobel Prize and the Fields Medal, and are expected first to have made internationally renowned contributions to a field of technological importance to China, and secondly to hold either a tenured position at one of the world’s top universities or a senior role in an internationally important research organization.
The funding can be significant, according to a 2016 report published by the Conference Board of Canada, The Thousand Talents Program: Lessons from China about faculty recruitment and retention. The TTP has given at much as US$335,000 in start-up seed money and as much as US$167,000 in renumeration per annum.
“Since these incentives [including permeant residency and multi-entry visas] are provided in addition to university’s existing faculty renumeration budgets, universities are able to attract top talent without having to tap into previously allocated programme funding,” says the report.
In August 2020, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warned that the TTP used “corrosive tactics, which are done to advance the economic and strategic objectives of hostile states”.
While CSIS demurred from discussing specific universities and programmes, spokesman John Townsend provided University World News with a statement that made clear its concern about Canadian professors participating in the TTP.
In 2019, Canada’s spy chief, David Vigneault, warned Canada’s university administrators that China was a “significant and clear” threat.
In addition to warning that Chinese authorities “covertly influenced” at least some of the tens of thousands of Chinese students studying in Canada in order to monitor the “five poisons” such as pro-democracy dissidents or supporters of Taiwan, the CSIS warned that “non-traditional collectors” of information were interested in acquiring sensitive technology and information.
Vigneault’s concerns are shared by the Americans and the Australians. In the 2019 report, Threats to the US Research Enterprise: China’s talent recruitment plans, the United States Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said that the Chinese Communist Party is intimately involved with the TTP.
Chinese scientists and students sign legally binding contracts that incentivise members to “set up ‘shadow labs’ in China working on research identical to their US research, and, in some cases, transfer US scientists’ hard-earned intellectual capital” to China. Between 2008 and 2017 the TTP grew from 2,000 to 7,000 researchers and scientists.
Far from being a training ground meant to produce Chinese scientists who would take their place in the international scientific community, the TTP’s goal, the Americans insisted, was to “establish policy mechanisms [recruitment] for overseas talents to serve the country”. The Senate report also notes that online references to the TTP on Chinese government websites vanished after US scrutiny of the programme began.
The fetchingly titled, Hunting the Phoenix: The Chinese Communist Party’s global search for technology and talent, published last month by the International Cyber Policy Centre of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, sketches the links between the TTP, the Chinese Communist Party and China’s defence establishment.
One Australian participant told researchers “of his duty to contribute to China’s national defence development”.
Along with at least three other professors, an Australian professor with expertise in supercomputing was recruited by China’s National University of Defense Technology, the People’s Liberation Army’s premier technology and science university. The report also details the cases of a number of American professors and researchers who have been arrested, charged and convicted of hiding their relationship with the TTP or of espionage.
Both Sanders and Mandelis believe in the free flow of scientific knowledge across national boundaries. Their work, they insist, is foundational and they cannot answer for how the technology that emerges from it is used, whether it be for commercial or defence purposes.
Yet, both are aware that “we should not share whatever knowledge is deemed sensitive. That needs to be handled properly,” says Sanders.
The CanSino agreement had come under criticism at the time when it was announced, as it came while two Canadians, including a former diplomat, were being held captive in China, in what Canadian officials described as “hostage diplomacy.”
Several Canadians have also been sentenced to death in China after a senior executive of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver where she is facing trial for fraud related to a bank in attempting to bypass sanctions on Iran. Even as that case proceeds in Canada, relations with Beijing have hit a new low over the past two years, making the collaboration agreement particularly surprising.
People are asking questions if it was Justin Trudeau’s love for China that despite all the new lows on a daily basis between Canada and China, Justin Trudeau gave the research of NRC to the Chinese company in a silver platter.
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Points to Ponder
How much more risk Justin Trudeau will put Canadians to? His list of blunders he has committed is enormous that only the future generations would have to pay for his blunders.
Is it lack of maturity on part of Justin Trudeau or is it his handlers that are sold out to Chinese who took decisions to work with the Chinese despite the whole world is getting together to take action against the Bio-Terrorist China that killed over 1.5 Million people worldwide?
Can for power and benefits, a Prime Minister can put his countrymen at risk the way Justin Trudeau’s love for China puts Canadians at risk?
Will the other countries in the world take care that Chinese Thousand Talents program does not dupe them of their valuable research and the efforts those countries put in for the technological advanements?
Will all the countries remove all the Chinese students and research scholars from their research institutes that can land up the technology in China’s lap?
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