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RFA: Australian Think Tank Published Report on How Chinese Students or Scholars Steal Military Technology from the West

Radio Free Asia  (RFA) reported that on October 30, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), an Australian think tank, published a report titled, “Picking flowers, making honey.” The report criticized China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for sponsoring Chinese students or scholars to study in the west so they would be able to steal military technology. The report stated that, since 2007, the PLA has sponsored more than 2,500 military scientists and engineers to study abroad and has developed relationships with researchers and institutions across the globe including in such countries as the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. These people often pose as students or scholars in a collaboration project to collect military technology. They hide their military background, and it is difficult for Western countries to understand or learn about their relationship with the Chinese military. These people usually do not directly contact the military personnel in the host country. The research cooperation projects they participate in are usually concentrated in the fields of emerging technology or military and civil science, such as quantum physics, signal processing, cryptography, navigation technology, artificial intelligence, etc. They secretly collect relevant technology. Meanwhile in the past five years, the number of research reports that Chinese military researchers and British and American scientists have published has been more than the number of research reports that  scholars from any other country have published. The report also pointed out that, since the Western academic environment is open, it is very difficult to prevent the CCP military personnel from stealing key technologies at the academic level. When many scholars of the Chinese military participate in scientific and technological research projects in Western countries, they often bring research funding as well.

A former Chinese Army Naval Intelligence Officer told RFA that major universities in mainland China have national defense students. These students have to sign confidential contracts with the military after they enter the university. Many scientific and technical personnel in the military are national defense graduates.

China’s official media Huanqiu condemned the report making the accusation that the report is “the western forces’ going to new heights to smear China’s image.” The report quoted one Chinese diplomatic scholar who claimed that Australia has followed in the footsteps of the U.S. in its China policy and actively cooperated with Trump’s statement that China’s development is based on stealing Western technology. This approach has not been good for Australia.

1. Radio Free Asia, October 31, 2018
2. Australian Strategic Policy Institute, October 30, 2018
3. Huanqiu, October 30, 2018