Tag Archives: Cyber Security

PM Trudeau’s Government Still Trying to Up-Suck to the Dragon, Ace of Compradors Dominic Barton Section (cont’d)

(Video of foreign minister Joly noted in image at top of the post here, for compradors see here and here.)

Further to this post with two extremely well-informed hard-nose views,

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

it would appear the Liberal government remains blinded by the Celestial Empire’s light–and the lure of the filthy yuan. From an excellent and clear-eyed Globe and Mail columnist:

Ottawa may want to go back to business as usual with Beijing. But that’s not possible

Konrad Yakabuski

Canadians hoping for a reset in how this country approaches an increasingly assertive China were likely disappointed to learn that Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly had tapped Dominic Barton to sit on a new committee to advise Ottawa on its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy.

Mr. Barton, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China until December, is a self-confessed “bull on China” who now chairs the board of directors for the British-Australian mining colossus Rio Tinto after overseeing the global operations of the consulting giant McKinsey & Co. Like McKinsey, Rio Tinto’s fortunes are deeply tied to the Chinese economy. China accounted for fully 57 per cent of the company’s US$64-billion in revenue in 2021 [see this post: “Dominic Barton, Canadian Prince of Cashing-in Compradors, and Conflict of Interest (note “UPDATE”)“].

The 17 members of the Indo-Pacific Advisory Committee will be required to divulge any conflicts of interest, and “will be expected to recuse themselves from participating in discussions or activities of the committee should any potential, perceived or real conflicts of interest arise,” Global Affairs Canada said in a June 9 press release announcing the committee’s creation.

Even so, Mr. Barton’s past and present business activities are impossible to ignore. He has long advocated for deeper economic relations between China and the West. His decision to accept the Rio Tinto gig even after witnessing firsthand China’s hostage diplomacy in the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig suggests a willingness to look past Beijing’s increasing authoritarianism, militarism and human rights abuses in the name of business [emphasis added].

Mr. Barton’s seat on the new committee along with other notable China doves has left many observers wondering whether Ottawa’s much-vaunted Indo-Pacific strategy, originally pitched as a foreign-policy pivot away from China in the aftermath of the Meng Wanzhou affair, is shaping up to be a cover for a return to business as usual [emphasis added].

“We want to make sure we have a relationship with China,” Ms. Joly told Politico last month. “It is a difficult one – there were arbitrary detentions of the two Michaels … I’m glad that this issue is now over and we’re moving on … My goal is to make sure that we re-establish ties.”

This will no doubt delight many Canadian business leaders eager to seize on the opportunity to sell to a market of more than 1.4 billion people with a growing appetite for this country’s natural resources and agricultural products. But as Canada moves to reset its relations with Beijing, many of our biggest allies are teaming up to take on the greatest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century as China seeks to cement its world power status.

Western hopes that integrating China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 would lead to its democratization were perhaps always faint. But under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has moved in the opposite direction, and has become a threat to the very rules-based international order that enabled it to become the world’s second-largest economy…

“Beijing wants to put itself at the centre of global innovation and manufacturing, increase other countries’ technological dependence, and then use that dependence to impose its foreign policy preferences,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month in a major speech outlining U.S. President Joe Biden’s China policy. “And Beijing is going to great lengths to win this contest – for example, taking advantage of the openness of our economies to spy, to hack, to steal technology and know-how to advance its military innovation and entrench its surveillance state [see this post: “FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?“].”

The Trudeau government is surely not blind to China’s designs. It did – albeit belatedly – decide to ban telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in Canadian 5G networks last month [more here]. But its long delay in making that decision [OVER THREE FLIPPING YEARS] suggests that it did so only reluctantly. And it has not stopped Canadian universities from continuing to accept research funding from Huawei, raising questions about the potential transfer of intellectual property developed here to a company with deep ties to the Chinese military and state [note this post: “Wow! PM Trudeau’s Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)“].

This week, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson conceded that Ottawa may need to take a tougher stand on investments by Chinese entities in this country’s critical minerals. But again, you don’t get a sense that the move is being made with any gusto. Ottawa’s latest discussion paper on developing a critical minerals strategy does not even mention China, despite that country’s dominance in the global electric-battery supply chain [emphasis added].

No wonder Washington has largely left Canada out of the loop as it builds new security relationships with Australia, Britain, Japan, India and several Indo-Pacific countries with the express aim of containing and countering China’s geopolitical ambitions…

As much as Ottawa seems to wish otherwise, there will be no going back to business as usual with Beijing.

One certainly hopes so. And much as this government wishes otherwise.

A telling paragraph from Terrible Terry Glavin on the reach of our comprador rot:

There’s the intimate connections between the Liberal old guard and the China-trade lobby, notable in former prime minister Jean Chretien’s son-in-law, the Power Corporation’s Andre Desmarais, the Canada-China Business Council’s honorary chairman [the council is Comprador Central, website here]. And of course there’s the daughter of Jean (“I am not a Liberal!”) Charest, currently contending for the job of Conservative Party leader. Amelie Dionne-Charest is the chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong [another nest of compradors, website here].

Earlier on Mr Barton:

Canadian Ambassador to PRC Dominic Barton, an Ace of Compradors, still Up-Sucking to the Dragon [2020]

Ace of Compradors Ambassador Dominic Barton gives up Selling the PRC to Canada [Dec. 2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

Interviews with two serious Canadian experts on the PRC–text from an e-mail from the first-rate Macdonald-Laurier Institute:

1) Canada’s Huawei Ban Comes Amid Heightened Tensions with China

Charles Burton, MLI

The Canadian government punted its Huawei decision for three years to avoid potential retaliation from the Chinese government, and resultingly, argues Burton, Canada is now perceived as an unreliable partner by our allies regarding our engagement with China. QUAD, AUKUS, the IPEF—we haven’t been offered a seat at the table. The CCP will retaliate and its retaliation toolkit is broad-based. Whatever they employ, they will make sure we understand it is because we insulted the Chinese state by not accepting Huawei.

The invasion of Ukraine, which China seemingly supports, as well as sustained tensions, and the potential for conflict over Taiwan, means that Canada must act in concert with other like-minded allies to counter the rise of authoritarian states. There has been mounting pressure for Canada to define its stances on China and Russia. We cannot continue our policies under present circumstances, which amount to appeasement, Burton Says. Canada needs an Indo-Pacific strategy consistent with our allies, make up for decades of policies that are no longer viable, increase our defence allocation, and, most importantly, prepare for conflict.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Charles Burton is a Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, European Values Center for Security Policy. Department of Political Science at Brock University specializing in Comparative Politics, Government and Politics of China, Canada-China Relations and Human Rights, 1989-2020. Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy to China between 1991-1993 and 1998-2000. Previously worked at the Communications Security Establishment of the Canadian Department of National Defence.

2) What to Expect Following Canada’s Huawei Ban

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston
ISSP, University of Ottawa

Last month, the federal government announced that Huawei and ZTE will be banned from Canada’s fifth-generation wireless network (5G), citing national security concerns. Despite encouragement from Canada’s Five Eyes partners, the decision to ban Huawei and ZTE still faced significant delays after the two Micheals were released. While the ban has been welcomed by many, there are still significant security concerns to consider in the near-term.

McCuiag-Johnston places particular emphasis on the challenges created by allowing companies and carriers until June 2024 to replace their 5G equipment. Telus has installed a large amount of Huawei software and hardware over the past two years, which means that Canada will have four years of exposure to the national security risk that we have been concerned about all along. Ultimately, de-installing Huawei will require constant updates and fixes to installed 5G equipment via backdoors. These are the very backdoors that could potentially be used for intelligence gathering purposes. Johnston applauds the Huawei decision but emphasizes that the government must not budge on removal deadline it has given to Canadian telecoms.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston  is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Senior Fellow with the University of Alberta’s China Institute and Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Formerly, she was Executive Vice-President at NSERC where she was responsible for strategic operations, including research policy and international relations. She was also a member for seven years of the Steering Committee for the Canada-China Science and Technology (S&T) Initiative.

These two are hard-nosed types about the PRC’s realities and dealing with the CCP. Do have a look.

Related posts:

FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?

Will Anyone in PM Trudeau’s Cabinet Bother to Read Joanna Chiu’s Book on the PRC?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Canadian Armed Forces Readying for Cyberwar

Further to these tweets last year,

now we get a look at our military’s “cyber playbook”. From a Global News story:

Canada directs military to take more ‘assertive’ stance in cyberspace

By Marc-André Cossette & Alex Boutilier

The Canadian government has directed its military to take a more “assertive” stance in cyberspace in anticipation of electronic warfare becoming a more central component in conflict, documents obtained by Global News suggest.

A “cyber playbook” prepared by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence comes as Ottawa pushes for international rules and norms around cyber espionage and warfare.

The playbook, provided to Defence Minister Anita Anand earlier this year, noted that the threats facing Canada’s networks have “evolved significantly” since the government released its 2010 cyber strategy.

The document also makes clear that Canada is under increasing pressure from allies to be able to conduct joint cyber operations, either as standalone operations or as support for “conventional” military conflict [emphasis added].

Anand’s office “clearly recognizes” cyberspace as a domain for warfare and operations that Canada must grapple with, the document read.

Speaking at a conference of defence experts hosted by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute on Tuesday [May 10], Anand singled out cyberattacks as one of several pressing national security threats…

Since 2016, NATO has recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations in which the alliance must defend itself just as effectively as it does on land, at sea and in the air.

But Russia’s war in Ukraine has given new urgency to allied co-operation in cyberspace, with western governments having issued repeated warnings this year about the threat of Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks.

“It may not be as upfront as some of the other military operations, but absolutely, cyber is a part of this conflict and in fact, all conflicts,” said Stephanie Carvin, a former CSIS analyst who now teaches at Carleton University.

The department’s playbook notes that Canada’s allies are increasingly calling for operational co-operation, including as part of missions that would include “robust cyber responses [emphasis added].”

In particular, the playbook highlights the U.S. concept of “deterrence through resilience,” noting that it has seen “a major thrust within Canada” and could be reflected in Canada’s cyber priorities.

“Basically, it means being able to deny actors access because of good cybersecurity practices,” Carvin explained. “But also, if they are able to get in, to ensure that we have a quick response, that government systems or private sector systems can come back online quickly.”..

Carvin also noted that the Department of National Defence’s playbook mirrors another concept that has been promoted by Canada’s allies, particularly the U.S.

I’m thinking of the concept of ‘defending forward’: the idea that you need to take a more aggressive stance in cyberspace,” Carvin said. “Not necessarily for offensive purposes, but for defensive purposes — perhaps to preempt any kind of threat that may be coming to your country [emphasis added, see this post on “defending forward” in the bigger NORAD context: “NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat“].”

Just last month, western governments warned that Russia might ramp up its malicious cyber activity against critical infrastructure in response to sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

It wasn’t the first such warning. In January of this year, Canada’s cyber defence agency urged those tasked with defending the country’s critical infrastructure to be on guard against Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks.

According to the defence department’s playbook, the need to better gather, use and share intelligence extends beyond the federal government and should engage industry, internet service providers and academia. That’s been a priority for the Communications Security Establishment – Canada’s main cyber defence and espionage agency, which also reports to Anand – particularly during the global pandemic.

Similarly, industry representatives have recently called on the federal government to make it easier for businesses to report cyber incidents — possibly through so-called safe harbour legislation, which would shield businesses that report a cyber breach from legal liability provided certain conditions are met.

Read more: Cyber defence agency gets significant boost in Liberals’ Budget 2022

Last month, the Canadian government published the country’s position on cyber warfare and international law. The document hints at what Canada is willing to do in both cyber espionage and warfare, but also when the government would consider a cyberattack to violate Canadian sovereignty.

“The scope, scale, impact or severity of disruption caused, including the disruption of economic and societal activities, essential services, inherently governmental functions, public order or public safety must be assessed to determine whether a violation of the territorial sovereignty of the affected state has taken place,” the document read.

In plain language, Carvin said, “not every action that crosses or affects a state is a violation” of sovereignty.

“So probing a system may not constitute a violation of state sovereignty, even if the action might be considered illegal,” Carvin said.

“If, for example, another country sent a spy to collect the same information, only in person, Canada’s state sovereignty wouldn’t be violated, but the action would be illegal – something like breaking and entering.”..

[DND spokesperson Jessica Lamirande wrote in a statement to Global News that] “Though we cannot release any further information on actual or alleged cyber operations, our Cyber Force is well positioned to plan and conduct cyber operations to defend military systems and infrastructure, and deliver effects outside of Canada, as authorized, in support of Canadian interests abroad.”..

Now here’s what the CAF say about this newish “trade“:

Cyber Operator

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time


Cyber Operators conduct defensive cyber operations, and when required and where feasible, active cyber operations [emphasis added]. They liaise and work collaboratively with other government departments and agencies, as well as with Canada’s allies to enhance the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ability to provide a secure cyber environment. They monitor CAF communication networks to detect and respond to unauthorized network access attempts and provide cyber support to meet the operational requirements of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and joint enablers.

A Cyber Operator has the following responsibilities:

*Collect, process and analyze network data

*Identify network vulnerabilities

*Manage a computer network environment

*Conduct defensive and active cyber operations [emphasis added]

*Apply security and communications knowledge in the field of information technology…

And a 2016 post–it seems progress is being made but I believe that comparatively we spend a lot less on cybersecurity etc. matters than the US, UK or Australia (typical, eh?):

Offensive Cyber Capability for Canadian Forces? Is the New Government Cyber Serious?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Now Major Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News Video on PRC’s Industrial Espionage in Canada

Further to this post,

Major Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News Video on PRC’s Harassing Critics in Canada, esp. Chinese Canadians (note UPDATE)

now the second installment (note Huawei and the demise of Canadian tech giant Nortel), on the public broadcaster’s flagship nightly news broadcast, of a three-part series of reports by the CBC’s research-intensive Terence McKenna, via the estimable Charles Burton of the Mcdonald-Laurier Institute:

And Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director of the Institute, adds:

A post on the Harvard prof. noted at the CBC report,

Chicoms Bought Harvard Nanotech Prof?

who was subsequently convicted. Very relevant earlier posts:

Head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Names PRC, Russia as Threats to Canadian High Tech, Universities

Two Reports on Growing Security Threats to Canada (note esp. PRC)–will PM Trudeau’s Government take Serious Action?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

PM Trudeau Highlights Cyber Threats…but No Mention of PRC, Huawei

Oh well, that really would be expecting a bit much from our rather craven prime minister. Further to this post (note further links at end),

Why Won’t PM Trudeau Call Out PRC (and Russia) for “foreign interference, disinformation, espionage and hostile cyber-efforts”?

now the fellow raises a, er, non-specific alarm (no offence to anyone, eh?)–at Global News:

Trudeau tasks cabinet with new cybersecurity plan amid growing attacks, spying

By Alex Boutilier

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tasked a committee of senior cabinet ministers to develop a new national cybersecurity plan amid increasingly public warnings from the country’s intelligence community about online threats.

In mandate letters released Thursday afternoon [Dec. 16, see news release here], Trudeau tapped his national defence, foreign affairs, public safety and industry ministers to develop a new “National Cyber Security Strategy [and how blinking long will that take?].”

Read more: Canadian health, energy sectors increasingly targeted by ransomware attacks

The plan should “articulate Canada’s long-term strategy to protect our national security and economy, deter cyber threat actors, and promote norms-based international behaviour in cyberspace,” the letters read [should the letters not also require that threat actors be identified?].

The directive comes as Canada’s intelligence community has been increasingly vocal in their warnings about the threat cyberattacks – and competing nation states – pose to the country’s security, economy and critical infrastructure.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s electronic cyber defence and espionage agency, warned last week that cyberattacks against critical sectors – like health care provision, manufacturing and the energy sector – are on the rise.

The agency has warned throughout the pandemic that workers shifting to their homes – and away from more secure office networks – presents a target-rich environment for cybercriminals or state-backed hackers to exploit.

Global News reported last week that, for the first time, CSE acknowledged it has conducted cyber operations against foreign hackers to “impose a cost.”

Read more: Canadian spy agency targeted foreign hackers to ‘impose a cost’ for cybercrime

There are signs that the Liberal government is heeding the intelligence community’s warnings [emphasis added, with notable reluctance after quite some time of warnings being issued].

A joint letter signed by Defence Minister Anita Anand, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and International Trade Minister Mary Ng implored Canadian businesses and organizations to beef up their cybersecurity measures.

“It’s time to think seriously about cyber security,” the letter read. “We urge you to take stock of your organization’s online operations, protect your important information and technologies with the latest cyber security measures, build a response plan and ensure that your designated IT security personnel are well prepared to respond to incidents.”

Trudeau asked Anand and Mendicino, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, to develop the new strategy. No timeline has been set for its delivery [!!! emphasis added]– although Trudeau told his ministers that he expects regular and public updates on their progress [and how much personal attention will Mr Socks pay to them?].

But specific threat actors–government, private, or mix of the two–not worth naming? Chicken.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

The long Reach of the Dragon’s Claws, Lithuania and New Zealand Sections

First smartphones:

Lithuania says throw away Chinese phones due to censorship concerns

Lithuania’s Defense Ministry recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities.

Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK) have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement”, Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday.The capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the “European Union region”, but can be turned on remotely at any time, the Defence Ministry’s National Cyber Security Centre said in the report.

“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius told reporters in introducing the report…

Taiwanese missions in Europe and the United States use the name of the city Taipei, avoiding a reference to the island itself, which China claims as its own territory…

The National Cyber Centre’s report also said the Xiaomi phone was sending encrypted phone usage data to a server in Singapore. A security flaw was also found in the P40 5G phone [P40 is available in Canada] by China’s Huawei (HWT.UL) but none was found in the phone of another Chinese maker, OnePlus, it said.

Huawei’s representative in the Baltics told the BNS news wire its phones do not send user’s data externally.

The report said the list of terms which could be censored by the Xiaomi phone’s system apps, including the default internet browser, currently includes 449 terms in Chinese and is continuously updated.

“This is important not only to Lithuania but to all countries which use Xiaomi equipment,” the Centre said in the report [Xiaomi products are available in Canada, image at top of the post is a Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite 6GB/128GB Gray smartphone].

Second, Chinese-language media in New Zealand:

Concern over ‘censorship’ rules of NZ-Chinese news site

An influential Chinese-language media outlet in New Zealand warned its users their information could be shared with ‘relevant state agencies’ if they violated Chinese laws

A popular news site could be exposing New Zealanders to Chinese state surveillance, Newsroom can reveal.

The revelation raises questions about the role of media in alleged foreign interference activity in Aotearoa and has prompted calls for stronger regulation.

Skykiwi.com promotes itself as New Zealand’s “most influential” Chinese-language media outlet, with half a million ‘daily average user visits’ to its multi-platform website. Besides providing news coverage, the site also runs message boards where a variety of topics, including current affairs, are discussed. It claims to have 81,000 daily forum users.

Until July, the terms of service for these forums contained clauses forbidding speech on a range of topics and said that users who violate Chinese laws in their postings could have their information shared with “relevant state agencies,” indicating China’s intelligence apparatus would be able to potentially identify them. It also meant criticism of China’s ruling Communist Party was all but banned.

“According to the laws of China and New Zealand, this community [i.e. Skykiwi] is obliged to immediately stop transmission, save relevant records, report to relevant state agencies, and delete addresses, directories, or shut down servers that contain the content.”China has some of the world’s most restrictive laws on dissent in the digital realm, which can be enforced against its citizens even if they posted content while overseas. This means that Chinese nationals in this country or Chinese New Zealanders who may wish to visit the mainland in the future could be at risk of legal action for criticising the Chinese Communist Party on the pages of a New Zealand website.A list of forbidden conduct on the forum, as seen last month, includes “leaking state secrets”, “damaging national honour and interests”, “undermining national unity”, inciting “subversion of state power”, “undermining national policies” and promoting “cults”. Virtually identical wording was discovered on the terms of service for China’s state-backed social media platform WeChat and a list of “prohibited content” outlined by the Chinese Ministry of Culture.

Skykiwi did not respond to emailed queries about its forum’s terms of service when initially approached for this story in July.

But after the questions were sent, Newsroom found that the page was updated, with the line about Chinese laws removed and replaced with a reference to “two countries,” suggesting that the text was curated but the policy had not changed…

Canterbury University professor Anne-Marie Brady, an expert on Chinese influence operations, told Newsroom media regulations were due for an update.

“Now we know that NZ Chinese media sites are using PRC law to censor discussion of NZ citizens and residents on their websites,” she said.

“The question is, what is the NZ Government going to do about it? Our media laws and governing institutions are already weak, and they are totally un-resourced and un-prepared to deal with foreign interference and foreign-state censorship.”

Brady said the Government should pass laws requiring the registration of foreign agents [as should Canada, a post: “Registry for PRC’s Agents in Canada? Who Cares?“]…

PM Trudeau’s government is oddly disinterested in trying to deal with such interference by the PRC in Canada. Very relevant posts:

Dragon Devouring Canadian Chinese Media, Part 2 (Note “Update” on situation in Australia towards end)

Group Led by Chinese-Canadians Warns of PRC’s Influence/Interference Activities in Canada [note further links at end]

Oh well, nothing for Liberals and their comprador friends to see here.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Wow! PM Trudeau’s Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne has unveiled rewritten guidelines for Ottawa’s main scientific research granting agency amid growing concerns that Canadian universities and researchers are transferring intellectual property to China, which benefits Beijing’s military and security apparatus. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press”.)

Further to this post this May,

Will PM Trudeau’s Government Dare take Serious Action vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities?

one is both rather rather stunned and very pleased by this news–perhaps some of the Five Eyes have been putting a heavy lean on the Liberal government which generally shies away from most actions that could be interpreted as aimed at the Chicoms. From a story at the Globe and Mail (see UPDATE below):

Ottawa imposes national security risk assessments for university researchers seeking federal funds

The federal government is imposing new mandatory national security risk assessments on funding requests from university researchers to protect Canadian intellectual property from falling into the hands of foreign governments and their proxies.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne on Monday unveiled rewritten guidelines for Ottawa’s main scientific research granting agency amid growing concerns that Canadian universities and researchers are transferring intellectual property to China, which benefits Beijing’s military and security apparatus.

Researchers applying for grants through the federal government’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) will now have to complete a security risk assessment and mitigation measures in consultation with national security agencies and federal departments on a case-by-case basis.

The risk assessment requirement is effectively immediately and mandatory for all federal grants involving researchers and private sector partner organizations [emphasis added]. The government said the risk assessment process will be expanded to all granting councils and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation in the near future.

“The bottom line is that [research projects] that are found to be high risk will not be funded and those which come with a low to medium risk assessment will be required to have risk mitigation measures put in place,” Mr. Champagne said in an interview.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has repeatedly warned that Canada is being targeted by sophisticated state-sponsored actors that attempt to steal information and intelligence from researchers and companies here [see this post: “Head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Names PRC, Russia as Threats to Canadian High Tech, Universities“].

“By requiring that risk assessments be submitted with research funding requests, these new mandatory guidelines will help protect Canadian research, knowledge and intellectual property,” Mr. Champagne said.

Any project that rated high risk by NSERC will undergo a national security review by Canadian security agencies as well as an assessment by a team of scientists. If judged to be too high a risk, it will not receiving government funding.

Ottawa will scrutinize research that could benefit other countries’ military, police or intelligence agencies or that focuses on critical minerals, nuclear power, critical infrastructure or technology and software that are subject to export restrictions [emphasis added] under Canada’s Exports and Imports Permit Act.

The new rules follows similar moves in the United States as well as concerns in Canada over the loss of intellectual property and sensitive technology to foreign countries such as China.

The announcement comes after the federal government was criticized for partnering with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to fund computer and electrical engineering research at Canadian universities [see this post: ‘No flipping shoot: “astonishing that Ottawa would put up money to help Huawei obtain advanced technology that will serve to benefit China”‘]

Mr. Champagne said the new rules would not necessarily rule out funding for Huawei. However, he added he was not concerned if China is upset with the security reviews, saying the government is trying to safeguard Canadian intellectual property…

In 2018, a Globe and Mail investigation revealed that Huawei had established a vast network of relationships with leading research-heavy universities in Canada to create a steady pipeline of intellectual property that the company is using to underpin its market position in mobile technology.

There are rising concerns among Western countries about China’s efforts to scour the world for technology that has both civilian and military value, what Richard Fisher, senior fellow on Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center think tank, has called a global “intelligence vacuum cleaner.”

A few years ago, a study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that Canada has become the third-largest destination for scientists affiliated with the Chinese military [see this 2018 paper: “Picking flowers, making honey.”].

The federal government recently announced that it will also cast a more critical eye over foreign investments in businesses that trade in personal data, or mine critical minerals — such as lithium used in electric vehicle batteries – or develop cutting edge technologies it considers sensitive. This last category includes fields such as artificial intelligence, quantum science, biotechnology and robotics, where acquiring a company would give the buyer access to research and design, and manufacturing that has applications for militaries or intelligence agencies.

Now let’s just see how effectively this decision is carried out in practice. And what sort of penalties are levied for breaches/evasions of the policy.

UPDATE: Not so “Wow!”–added to the Globe story above since this post was done:

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a former executive vice-president of NSERC, said the guidelines are a step forward but they do not address university researchers who rely on Chinese funding.

“Money is no object in Chinese R&D, and the Chinese partner in most cases would be happy to step in to fund what would otherwise have been the NSERC portion,” she said. “This would still have Canadian researchers contributing to projects that hold a national-security risk for Canada.”

Former CSIS director Richard Fadden agreed that the measures are far too narrow.

“The guidelines seem to be limited to areas where there is federal funding,” he said. “National-security threats are hardly limited to areas receiving federal funding and these guidelines should cover all university research in a way that reflects federal responsibility for all aspects of national security.”..

Here’s a recent article very much worth the read by an expert on Canada/PRC relations and government involvement in research:

All Canadian universities must critically reassess their collaborations with China

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston is a senior fellow at the Institute of Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa and former executive vice-president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

UPPERDATE: Bet you dollars to Timbits that PM Trudeau’s government will not have the, er, nerve to do anything like the resolute Diggers:

Australia looks to wall off sensitive tech from China

Issued on: 17/11/2021 [AFP]

Australia on Wednesday [Nov. 17] announced measures to ring-fence dozens of sensitive technologies from foreign interference, stepping up efforts to safeguard against “national security risks” from China and others.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a list of 63 “critical technologies” to be promoted and protected at an online forum in Sydney — a step toward limiting what government, industry and universities can and cannot share with foreign counterparts.

The list includes 5G communications, quantum technologies — which are based on the physics of sub-atomic particles — artificial intelligence, advanced magnets, 3D printing, drones and vaccines.

The measures aim to “balance the economic opportunities of critical technologies with their national security risks”, Morrison told a forum hosted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Items on the list will not be automatically banned for export or proscribed, but may be subject to “additional risk management”, including measures to stop “unwanted tech transfer”.

Australia has become increasingly concerned about the transfer of sensitive technology to foreign military powers, particularly to China, under the guise of academic cooperation [emphasis added].

Canberra has also moved to limit the ability of Chinese state-linked firms to operate critical infrastructure in Australia.

A decision to effectively bar Huawei from running Australia’s 5G network was the catalyst for a major diplomatic rift between the two countries…

Solid, man. Unlike the slushy Great White North. Sigh.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Why Won’t PM Trudeau Call Out PRC (and Russia) for “foreign interference, disinformation, espionage and hostile cyber-efforts”?

Further to this post,

The PRC vs Canada’s National Security, or, “Justin Trudeau is not a serious man”

excerpts from a Canadian Press story:

Pandemics, climate change among new threats that demand security revamp: PM’s adviser

By Jim Bronskill [tweets here]

The prime minister’s intelligence adviser is calling for an expanded definition of national security in an era of global pandemics, climate change and cyberthreats…

[Vincent] Rigby, who became national security and intelligence adviser in January 2020, said these challenges are relevant to all Canadians in their daily lives, as the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear.

In the face of such massive change, Canada’s national security community needs to evolve and adapt, he said…

Rigby underscored federal concerns that China and Russia are attempting to interfere in Canada’s affairs, threatening the integrity of its political system, democratic institutions, social cohesion and long-term prosperity.

“Indeed, China and Russia and other hostile state actors will continue to pose a significant security and economic threat to Canada through their foreign interference, disinformation, espionage and hostile cyber-efforts.”..

Other very relevant posts, c’mon prime minister-man!

Head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Names PRC, Russia as Threats to Canadian High Tech, Universities

Bets on Date for first RCMP Arrest for PRC Intimidation/Interference in Canada?

Registry for PRC’s Agents in Canada? Who Cares?

Two Reports on Growing Security Threats to Canada (note esp. PRC)–will PM Trudeau’s Government take Serious Action?

Group Led by Chinese-Canadians Warns of PRC’s Influence/Interference Activities in Canada

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Memo to PM Trudeau: Huawei’s 5G? No Way!

It really is beyond embarrassing that, after having Huawei’s participation in Canadian 5G networks under “review” for well over two years, the government has yet to ban the company for fear of offending the PRC. The Netherlands at 1), note Australia and the UK at 2).

1) At NL Times (Netherlands):

Huawei was able to eavesdrop on Dutch mobile network KPN: Report

Chinese technology company Huawei would have had free access to KPN’s mobile network [one of the Netherlands’ largest] in the past and could eavesdrop on all conversations. De Volkskrant writes this based on a secret report from 2010 which their editorial staff reviewed.

According to the newspaper, Huawei was able to eavesdrop on mobile numbers from the telecom provider at that time. This also included the phones of the then Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, various ministers, and Chinese dissidents. Huawei also knew which numbers were tapped by police and intelligence services [emphasis added].

Huawei’s says it never acted inappropriately by abusing its position in the Netherlands. KPN says in a response that it has no indications that lines were tapped or that customer data was stolen.

KPN used Huawei’s technology in 2009. Six Chinese employees of the company worked at the then head office in The Hague. In that year, the telecom provider asked Capgemini researchers to analyze any risks associated with Huawei and how the Chinese company behaved within KPN. The domestic security service AIVD [English website here] had already warned KPN several times about the risk of espionage by Huawei.

The conclusions turned out to be so alarming that the internal report was kept secret. “The continued existence of KPN Mobile is in serious danger because permits may be revoked or the government and businesses may give up their confidence in KPN if it becomes known that the Chinese government can eavesdrop on KPN mobile numbers and shut down the network”, de Volkskrant quotes the report. At the time, KPN’s mobile network had 6.5 million subscribers.

Unauthorized access from China

The Capgemini report stated that Huawei staff, both from within KPN buildings and from China, could eavesdrop on unauthorized, uncontrolled, and unlimited KPN mobile numbers. The company gained unauthorized access to the heart of the mobile network from China [emphasis added]. How often that happened is not clear because it was not recorded anywhere.

KPN informed the news source ANP on Saturday that “it has never been established in all years that customer data was stolen by Huawei from our networks or our customer systems, or that it has been tapped [emphasis added].” If it had, the company said it would have “certainly informed the appropriate authorities and our customers.”

”Huawei employees have not had unauthorized access to KPN’s network and data, nor have they extracted data from that network. Huawei has at all times worked under the explicit authorization of KPN,” the Chinese technology firm said. “This applied to both employees of Huawei and the Huawei employees hired by KPN to support its activities.”


Since our start in the Netherlands 15 years ago, we have never been held accountable by the government authorities for any unauthorized acts,” Huawei states [emphasis added] in a release published Saturday.

Based on the Capgemini report, KPN decided to refrain from outsourcing the full maintenance of the mobile core network. To this day, the telecom company maintains its mobile core network itself, with the help of Western suppliers [emphasis added]. To tackle the risks in the systems of the network, KPN said it was implementing an improvement plan.

De Volkskrant reported last month that the Chinese company also had unlimited access to the customer data of KPN subsidiary Telfort, and Huawei at that time also denied that its staff acted unethically at any point in time.

”Huawei employees have not had unauthorized access to KPN’s network and data, nor have they extracted data from that network. Huawei has at all times worked under the explicit authorization of KPN,” the Chinese technology firm said. “This applied to both employees of Huawei and the Huawei employees hired by KPN to support its activities.”

The Dutch telecom company and Huawei would defend themselves, wouldn’t they? More at The Guardian:

KPN continued to award several contracts for parts of its core 3G and 4G networks to Huawei after receiving the Capgemini report, which it never made public.

In July 2019, a Dutch government task force recommended stronger vetting of telecoms equipment suppliers, but despite warnings from the US government and others of the dangers of Chinese espionage did not ban Huawei.

Last year, however, KPN became one of the first European operators to exclude the Chinese company from its core 5G network, opting for Sweden’s Ericsson instead, while the Dutch government announced tighter restrictions for equipment suppliers including background checks on staff with access to networks [emphasis added].

Despite strong US lobbying, and the announcement of bans in countries such as the UK – from September 2021 – and Sweden, European countries are split on their attitude to Huawei, which has repeatedly denied spying for the Chinese state.

Europe remains a key battleground for the company…

2) Meanwhile in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Australia’s Huawei ban ‘vindicated’ by Dutch spying reports: MPs

Australian and British MPs who pressured Boris Johnson’s government to ban Huawei from the UK’s 5G network say they have been fully vindicated following reports the Chinese vendor was able to eavesdrop on conversations taking place on a Dutch telephone network…

Australia’s governments have long banned Huawei from both the broadband and 5G networks over spying and security concerns…

[UK PM] Johnson eventually blocked the Chinese vendor in July last year

Another Conservative MP who campaigned to block Huawei, former deputy prime minister Damian Green, said: “This shows how right it was to squeeze Huawei out of the UK’s 5G network, for the long term security of the country and its citizens.”..

Relevant posts:

Banning Huawei from Canada’s 5G Networks not enough to Guarantee Security (but it sure will help!)

No flipping shoot: “astonishing that Ottawa would put up money to help Huawei obtain advanced technology that will serve to benefit China”

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds