Keeping an eye on Communist, Totalitarian China, and its influence both globally, and we as Canadians. I have come to the opinion that we are rarely privy to truth regarding the real goal, the agenda of Red China, and it's implications for Canada [and North America as a whole]. No more can we rely on our media as more and more information on China is actively being swept under the carpet - not for consumption.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
'Significant and clear' threat: What Canada's spy chief says about China behind closed doors
'Significant and clear' threat:What Canada's spy chief says about China behind closed doors
Published: Aug 13, 2019 at 8 a.m.
Vigneault identified China and Russia seeking to exploit universities’ 'culture of openness' to acquire knowledge and technology
In his first public speech last December, before a crowd of business leaders, the chief of Canada’s spy agency identified foreign interference and state-sponsored espionage as being the “greatest threat to our prosperity and national interest”.
Behind closed doors, however, David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has not shied away from singling out China, according to copies of other speeches he has delivered that were obtained by the National Post.
In a presentation to Canada’s top university administrators in the spring of 2018, Vigneault said China represents “the most significant and clear” challenge when it comes to espionage targeting Canadian campuses.
Vigneault warned in the same speech that certain foreign intelligence services, “especially those in China and Russia” were engaged in the “monitoring and/or coercion” of students, faculty and university officials in an effort to further their political influence.
Later in the fall, Vigneault warned attendees of an international cyber security workshop in Ottawa that China’s building of 5G networks around the world was giving rise to “new espionage and disruption risks.” The text of his speech described China as “one of the biggest threats facing our countries” because of the wide range of its cyber targets — except the words “one of” were crossed out.
Asked if Vigneault said in his actual speech that China posed “the” biggest cyber threat, CSIS spokesman John Townsend declined to say.
“Canadian industry and academic institutions are world leaders in various economic, technological and research sectors that are of interest to multiple foreign states,” he wrote in an email.
“These states seek to acquire Canadian technology and expertise by utilizing a range of traditional and non-traditional intelligence collection tradecraft.”
Invited to respond to the allegations, the press office of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa told the Post in a statement: “If some Canadian individuals try to accuse China of (conducting) espionage activities or cyber attacks against Canada, they should produce tangible evidence, rather than making malicious attacks out of nothing.”
The statement continued: “5G technology should not be exclusively owned by one or several countries, it should be a product of exchanges and co-operation among countries. Any country with independent judgement will not miss the express train of the 5G era at the cost of its own interests.”
The federal government is in the midst of deciding whether to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to have a role in expanding Canada’s next generation of wireless networks, known as 5G, amid growing national security concerns and frayed diplomatic relations between the two countries.
A feud erupted in December when Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a warrant issued in the U.S., where she faces fraud charges. Two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, were later detained in China in what was widely seen as an act of retaliation. The quarrel has since escalated with China suspending imports of Canadian canola and meat products.
The CSIS director’s speeches and speaking notes, obtained by the Post through an access-to-information request, were delivered in 2018. The remarks make clear that terrorism remains the most immediate threat to Canada’s public safety.
The movement and travel of radicalized Canadians “poses a tremendous investigative challenge” for the agency, as does the “effectiveness of extremist messaging and recruitment,” Vigneault said. The agency, he said, has observed “in some individuals, a very rapid procession from the time they are introduced to a violent ideology to the moment where they resolve to commit violence.”
But while terrorism occupies a significant part of the agency’s attention, it also has to contend with “hostile state actors” engaged in espionage — the clandestine stealing of political, commercial and military secrets by foreign agents on the ground in Canada or by sophisticated hackers operating remotely, the speeches said.
There is also an emerging — and more subtle — threat of foreign interference, the act by foreign agents to try to influence the opinions and decisions of Canadians in order to obtain political or economic advantage, Vigneault said. This can take the form of social media “bot-nets,” “fake news” and advertising campaigns designed to confuse and distort public perception.
Foreign espionage and foreign interference were key themes in a presentation Vigneault made to presidents of Canada’s leading research universities, known as the U15 group, in April 2018.
Vigneault identified China and Russia among the countries seeking to exploit universities’ “culture of openness” to acquire knowledge and technology.
“Threat actors from some of these governments also seek to monitor and influence their citizens abroad, in an attempt to both root out dissidents and use their nationals as tools of influence and intelligence collection. While some foreign nationals in Canada assist their governments willingly, many do so begrudgingly out of fear of state retribution upon them or their families,” the speech said.
“CSIS assesses that China represents the most significant and clear challenge for (human-enabled espionage) targeted against Canada’s universities.”
Vigneault noted that in June 2017, Chinese authorities formalized legislation compelling Chinese individuals and organizations — both public and private, as well as those operating abroad — to cooperate with state intelligence officials upon request or face jail time.
China’s use of “non-traditional collectors (NTCs),” such as students and researchers, to acquire sensitive and proprietary information from Canadians is particularly challenging, the speech said. “NTCs have little-to-no formal intelligence tradecraft training but are often in a position to acquire vast quantities of data or knowledge.”
When it comes to foreign influence, Chinese threat actors are “particularly interested in universities and students, especially when they intersect with the so-called ‘five poisons,’ i.e. the Falun Gong , Taiwan , Tibet , the Uyghur community of Xinjiang and pro-democracy movements or individuals,” the speech said.
Because Canadian universities host large numbers of Chinese nationals as students, faculty and researchers, China’s state actors seek to “covertly influence these individuals for the purposes of furthering state interests.” This could take the form of pressuring students to participate in demonstrations or to spy on other students.
Chinese government officials, Vigneault added, are “not above holding funding, student applications, and future engagement hostage in order to coerce foreign academic institutions into cooperating with state authorities.”
Asked how Canadian universities — whose enrolment of international students has soared past half-a-million, with the vast majority from China — were responding to these alleged threats, Gilles Patry, the U15 group’s executive director, wrote in an email: “Although I won’t comment on specific measures institutions have in place, universities are actively working to mitigate a variety of domestic and international risks to ensure Canada gets the full benefits that result from having world-class, globally-engaged universities with diverse student and faculty populations. At the same time, we must also preserve Canada’s values of openness, academic freedom, freedom of expression, and the free exchange of scientific ideas.”
Speaking at a cyber security workshop in Ottawa in October 2018, Vigneault again highlighted China — this time in the context of its “increasingly aggressive cyber-activities,” the “indiscriminate nature of its activities,” and the “wide range of targets that China deploys its cyber activities against.”
Without mentioning Huawei by name, Vigneault’s speech also stated that “China’s leadership in building global 5G networks will almost certainly provide its intelligence services with new exploitable capabilities, giving rise to new espionage and disruption risks.”
That same month, CSIS officials, including assistant director Mike Peirce, told a meeting of U15 vice-presidents to be cautious about their research relationships with Huawei, the Globe and Mail previously reported.
Speaking to reporters last month, Alykhan Velshi , Huawei Canada’s vice-president of corporate affairs, tried to downplay the security concerns.
“We’re not villains in an espionage thriller, we’re a telecom network equipment provider,” he said.