Ottawa is banning federal research funding for projects done in collaboration with any researchers affiliated with China’s military. The federal government is calling on the provinces and universities across Canada to follow similar guidelines.
“Grant applications that involve conducting research in a sensitive research area will not be funded if any of the researchers working on the project are affiliated with a university, research institute or laboratory connected to military, national defence or state security entities of foreign state actors that pose a risk to our national security,” reads a Feb. 14 joint statement by the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.
“This enhanced policy will be implemented rapidly and in close consultation with our departments, Canada’s national security agencies and the research community,” said the ministers, noting that due to a “constantly evolving threat environment,” more had to be done to protect Canada’s “research ecosystem.”
The government has indicated it will be instructing the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Canada’s federal research granting councils—the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, as well as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research—to deny funding to Chinese military scientists.
The government also announced it will be forming a research security centre that will provide advice and guidance directly to research institutions. The ministers said they have written to Universities Canada and the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities urging them to follow similar guidelines for all their research partnerships, especially in sensitive research areas.
The government said it would work closely with the university sector to ensure these steps are implemented effectively, and that this was one of many steps the federal government planned to protect the country and intellectual property.
The announcement follows previous comments made by Champagne at a House of Commons committee meeting on Feb. 2, when the minister vowed to impose additional requirements to strengthen research security in Canada. He said the government had to ensure that sensitive research and intellectual property would be protected and said that for matters of national security, there would be “no compromise.”
On Jan. 30, The Globe and Mail reported that 50 Canadian universities had been working in partnership with a Chinese military scientific institution, conducting research on high-end and sensitive technologies, including those related to guided missiles and eavesdropping.
Between 2005 and 2022, researchers from the University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and McGill University, among others, conducted and published hundreds of scientific papers with Chinese military scientists at the National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) in China. There were 240 joint research papers published by 10 of Canada’s top universities in collaboration with NUDT within the past five years, on topics including quantum cryptography, photonics, and space science.
Some of the scientists at NUDT are specialists in missile performance and guidance systems, mobile robotics, and automated surveillance.
NUDT said on its webpage that it was initially founded as the People’s Liberation Army Military Academy of Engineering in the 1950s and is now under the direct leadership of China’s Central Military Commission. The institution has received significant investments from the state and the military.
On Nov. 5, 2013, Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping visited the school and said, “We will accelerate the building of the university into a world-class university with Chinese military characteristics, and strive to turn the university into a highland for training high-quality new military personnel and for independent innovation in national defense technology.”
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has long warned Canadian academic institutions of foreign espionage activities conducted through academic research, saying China is among several foreign actors that Canada needs to be vigilant against.
Andrew Chen contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times