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CSIS Warns of CCP Use of “Thousand Talents Program” in Top Canadian Universities

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) investigation shows that at least 15 Canadian scholars participated in Beijing’s “Thousand Talents Program.” They included experts in quantum computing, electronic engineering, vaccines, chemistry and artificial intelligence.

Professor Margaret McCuaig-Johnston of the University of Ottawa believes that this number is substantially underestimated. She said that all major Canadian universities have many research projects in which they are collaborating with China, including artificial intelligence, robotics, and quantum optics. These are areas of great interest to the Chinese military. China will pass the Canadian academic research results to the military whether in the open or privately through these collaborating scholars.

Gu Ming (a pseudonym), who once served for years as a senior executive in the Canada-China Society of Science and Technology (CCSST), told Radio Free Asia that more than two decades ago, the Chinese government established overseas bases and deployed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organizations to learn or steal Western technology. There are CCP branches in well-known Canadian universities such as the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. CCSST is one of the liaison organizations. “These people (in CCSST) are here to do research and study for a Ph.D. They were paid by the state, and there are CCP branches there. China uses these associations to contact foreign research institutions and senior research scholars. Then they either invite the scientific and technologically talented to do research in China or they buy the scholar’s knowledge. If they can’t buy the knowledge they need, they try to steal it. To put it bluntly, China started employing this strategy more than 20 years ago.”

The Canadian authorities are well aware of the situation. For example, the Conference Board of Canada published a report in 2016, claiming that the “Thousand Talents Program” provides salary, research funding and other incentives to participants, who the carry out research and other activities in Chinese and overseas universities. In recent years, after discovering evidence of technology transfers, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has discussed (this issue) with universities and other research institutions, expressing its concerns about the “Thousand Talents Program” and other foreign recruitment plans.

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 21, 2020

On Twitter: UK Ambassador Holds a Book Promoting Xi Jinping

Caroline Wilson, the newly appointed British ambassador to China, will take office this month. Before leaving for Beijing, the senior diplomat posted a photo on her Twitter account. In the photo, she and the Chinese ambassador to the UK held a book that glorifies the head of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping. The tweet raised questions about whether she could promote and safeguard British values and interests.

Wilson said on her twitter account: “Valuable meeting with @AmbLiuXiaoMing before heading to Beijing. We can and must work for ambitious UK-China collaboration, on climate, health, trade, and also engaging on trickier topics too. I look forward to supporting a mature, positive UK-China relationship, in line with UK values.” The book The Governance of China, which Xi Jinping authored, presents the official party line for the Chinese government.

Wilson’s tweet and photo soon attracted hundreds of comments. Only a few comments praised her as “the best candidate for this absolutely critical position.” The vast majority of netizens believed that this tweet was extremely untimely.

“UK values in this particular book? Good luck …”

“Ah, the little book of Chairman Xi. Just the perfect analogy to the little red book of Chairman Mao.”

“Some individuals still don’t understand the CCP; good luck trusting the CCP.”

“British values and Xi Jing Ping Thought. Round peg in a square hole.”

“Hardly imagine this can happen to the new ambassador when the whole world is condemning #CCP for its move in suppressing human rights in #HongKong and #Xinjiang. #TakeDownTheCCP”

“Why not change with George Orwell’s “1984” with it? it’s a completely forbidden No entry sign in mainland china now.”

Nathan Law, one of the student leaders during the 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014 in Hong Kong, now living in London following the National Security Law that Beijing enacted, commented, “This looks terrible. Accepting ‘Xi’s speech’ from this awful ambassador — I see it as an insult to the democratic values that we all share. Stop helping the CCP to spread its propaganda and infiltrate the democracies. This is an extremely bad move from the new British Ambassador.”

Roger Garside, a former British diplomat and author of Coming Alive: China After Mao“ said, “As a former British diplomat myself, who served twice in Beijing, I am appalled by this behavior of our Ambassador-designate to the PRC… It goes beyond anything I have witnessed from a British diplomat.”

Garside summed up the reaction to Wilson’s tweet as a “stream of well-deserved outrage.”

Source: Voice of America, September 18, 2020

RFA Chinese: Around 1,700 Japanese Applied for Government Aid to Leave China

Radio Free Asia (RFA) Chinese Edition recently reported that the Japanese government’s aid program to assist Japanese companies to leave China is gaining in popularity. The first batch of approved applicants consisted of nearly 90 companies. However, by the end of July, the program received almost 1,700 applications in the second batch. It appears Japan is moving its industrial supply chain out of China. The Japanese government added a supplemental budget of US$2.07 billion to its 2020 budget in order to sponsor Japanese manufacturers moving their supply chain out of China and back to Japan or somewhere else. The second batch of applications totaled US$16.57 billion. Experts expressed the belief that, right now, the CCP virus is serving as a wake-up call for many governments around the globe that restructuring their industrial supply chain is an urgent task. On the other hand, the steady increase in the cost of investing in China is also emerging as an important factor motivating companies to consider leaving China. According to a study that the Japan External Trade Organization conducted, China’s cost index was 80 in 2019, Vietnam was 74, and baseline Japan was 100.

Source: RFA Chinese, September 14, 2020

Canada Gave up on Free Trade Agreement Negotiation with China

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, commented in an interview with the Globe and Mail on Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with China. He concluded that there is no value in continuing the negotiation and so Canada has given up on the process. The negotiation started four years ago when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited China. Champagne expressed the belief that the current political conditions are not suitable for further discussions. Prime Minister Trudeau has been under heavy domestic criticism for giving up too many of Canada’s principles in exchange for China’s business opportunities. Earlier, Champagne described China’s style of pushing foreign relationships as “arbitrary” and “coercive.” (Editor’s note: Sina’s report did not mention that, in the same interview with the Globe and Mail, Champagne stated Canada’s first priority is to bring home Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. In in June, in retaliation for Canada’s detention of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese Communists charged the two Michaels with espionage.)

Source: Sina, September 19, 2020

Taiwan Kuomintang Cancels Visit to the “Straits Forum” over CCTV Host’s Statement

The Kuomintang originally planned that Wang Jin-pyng, the former legislator, would lead a delegation to Xiamen of Fujian province to participate in the Straits Forum on September 16. However, Li Hong, a CCTV host of “Across the Strait” commented that Wang’s visit to the mainland was “to seek reconciliation.” The statement triggered criticism of the Kuomintang in Taiwan. Johnny Chiang, the Kuomintang chairman demanded an apology from Li Hong. Although Li later on responded that she meant that the visit was to seek “peace” not “reconciliation,” [Editor’s note: “和” in Chinese carries multiple meanings including reconciliation, harmony or peace] she was unable to quell all parties’ doubts. On September 14, the Kuomintang announced that, for the first time since the Straits Forum started 12 years ago, it would not participate in the “Straits Forum” as a political party; however, each party member could decide for himself whether to participate.

China has hosted the “Straits Forum” since 2009. In the past, the chairman of the National Committee of the Political Consultative Conference would attend the opening ceremony. For the past 11 years, the Kuomintang sent a vice chairman to lead a delegation. Hung Hsiu-chu personally led a delegation when she was the Chairman. This year Johnny Chiang was elected the Chairman of the party without a Vice Chairman so Wang Jin-pyng, former legislative member, was selected to attend the “Straits Forum.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 14, 2020

Chinese Investments in Australia Plummeted in 2019

The Australian National University’s (ANU) Chinese Investment in Australia (CHIIA) database reported the total investments from China in 2019 were 2.5 billion Australian dollars (US$ 1.8 billion). This was about half of the 4.8 billion Australian dollars (US$ 3.5 billion) invested in 2018.

The inflow of Chinese money reached its peak of nearly 16 billion Australian dollars (US$ 11.7 billion) in 2016, and has since fallen sharply. Most industries saw dramatic declines in 2019, including real estate, mining and manufacturing. Investment in agriculture declined, but the construction and financial industries rebounded slightly.

ANU professor Peter Drysdale, head of the CHIIA database project, reckoned that there were a multitude of factors behind the plunge.

As Chinese companies are increasingly focusing on developing markets and Beijing is trying to prevent capital outflows, in 2019, foreign direct investment from China fell by nearly 10 percent globally. The decline in Australia was even more severe, partly because of the end of the mining boom (which brought a lot of money from China).

Professor Drysdale added that the government’s new regulatory barriers have also pushed away Chinese investors. In recent years, China’s investments in Australia have attracted heated political debates. The Australian Federal Government has generally strengthened its review of foreign investment. Earlier this year, the Treasurer of Australia, Josh Frydenberg, introduced new restrictions to prevent overseas companies from targeting troubled Australian assets due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The largest transaction that CHIIA recorded in 2019 was Mengniu Dairy’s acquisition of Bellamy, an Australian infant formula manufacturer, at 1.5 billion Australian dollars (US$1.1 billion). Last month, Frydenberg blocked Mengniu’s acquisition of the Australian company Lion Dairy and Drinks, claiming the deal was “contrary to their national interest.”

The political relationship between Australia and China has also turned increasingly hostile. The two countries have seen a series of issues, including foreign infiltration, Australian journalists harassed in China, cyber espionage, trade, Hong Kong issues and the COVID-19 outbreak. Professor Drysdale expected a further decline in Chinese investments in Australia in 2020.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Company Chinese, September 14, 2020

India Is Coming up with New Trade Barriers for China

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that, according to two anonymous Indian government officials and one industrial official, India will soon ask domestic importers to register. The purpose is to protect domestic manufacturers. The next step will be to impose import restrictions on copper and aluminum so that the government must approve all import contracts. India buys a large amount of copper and aluminum from China. The up-coming plan also includes the implementation of Prime Minister Modi’s strategy to reduce imports and to increase India’s exports of high value-added products. The registration requirement is also designed to track more accurately and to understand the level of metal dumping into the Indian market. The Indian Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Commerce refused to comment on this matter. India has been creating new anti-China trade policies recently, such as the ban on hundreds of Chinese mobile apps. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce expressed the opinion that India has been violating the legal rights of both Chinese investors and the Indian consumers.

Source: Sina, September 10, 2020

China-Argentina ‘Pig Deal’ Sparks Protests

Argentina’s citizens, including environmental and animal rights groups, are protesting a pork investment and export deal with China, a $3.5 billion agreement that makes Argentina the largest pork supplier for China. More than 200,000 people also signed an online petition to oppose the plan. As a result of the public pressure, the Argentine authorities have postponed signing the memorandum of understanding with China.

Activists accused the authorities of causing ecological damage. In the Atlantic coastal city of Mar del Plata, Juliet Paladino, a member of the environmental organization, told local media that Argentina does not have enough grain to feed the pigs. “This will mean more land to grow genetically modified corn, the destruction of wetlands and a number of protected areas. This agreement will destroy us.”

A press release that the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued on July 6 mentioned the goal of an increase in the country’s pig production of 9 million tons in four years, 14 times the current output of 630,000 tons in 2019. China plans to invest US$3.5 billion within two to three years and build 25 local farms. Each will raise 12,000 pigs. The entire industrial chain includes fodder production plants, waste treatment and conversion tanks, slaughterhouses, and packaging and export factories.

Biologist Guillermo Folguera at the University of Buenos Aires (Universidad de Buenos Aires) told the BBC that such projects are likely to lead to (more of) “the zoonotic diseases we are currently experiencing.” He explained that intensively raised animals and the large number of chemicals and antibiotics may bring considerable risks. To a large extent, it is because of the outbreak of African swine fever that China has “outsourced” this risk to other countries.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pigs. The number of live pigs once exceeded 440 million, almost half of the global stock. However, since 2018, the sudden outbreak of African swine fever has forced China to cull millions of pigs. Many farmers have stopped raising pigs, and China’s pork production has fallen by more than half.

Professor Folguera added that similar cases in countries such as Chile, Mexico and Spain show that such giant factories will lead to serious pollution of air, water and land. The pollutants include ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and antibiotics.

Argentine environmental writer Soledad Barruti worries about water consumption, as 6000 liters of water are needed to produce a kilogram of pork. “We not only export meat, but also millions of liters of water, but no one pays for it. Another problem is the waste and toxins produced by millions of animals.”

For years, China has been Argentina’s largest market for agricultural product and beef exports. In 2019, Argentina exported more than 630,000 tons of beef to China, accounting for three-quarters of its total beef exports. The cooperation between the two countries goes beyond agriculture. In April, China replaced Brazil and became Argentina’s largest trading partner. As early as 2014, when China proposed the “Belt and Road” initiative, then Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner already set her sights on the East after the government defaulted on US$100 billion of international debt. The two sides quickly finalized a number of projects involving cooperation, such as railways and nuclear power plants.

After Mauricio Macri, who tends to be conservative, came to power, he stopped or began to review a number of Chinese-funded projects. The relationship between the two countries temporarily cooled down.

When Alberto Fernández was elected President last year, the Argentine government restarted the Patagonia dam project. In July, he approved China’s space station project in Neuquén, South Argentina, an agreement reached with Christina Fernandez in 2014. Not long ago, a well-known local media Revista News (Revista News) used “ArgenChina” on the cover to describe the close relationship between the two countries. The background is a picture where President Alberto Fernandez wears a Chinese style bamboo hat.

Source: BBC Chinese, September 4, 2020