Tag Archives: Red Chinese espionage

Chinese Employee of Hydro Quebec Arrested for Economic Espionage

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Chinese Employee of Hydro Quebec Arrested for Economic Espionage

Below are details of the arrest in mid-November of a Hydro Quebec employee, one Yuesheng Wang for spying — economic espionage — for Red China. Interestingly, he wasn’t caught by the Mounties — the Mounties don’t ‘always get their man” — but by Hydro Quebec security. Charles Burton, a former professor of Political Science at Brock University and now a Senior Fellow with the Macdonald Laurier Institute told Toronto 1010 Talk Radio (November 16): “Canada doesn’t have the resources or political will to root out” Red Chinese espionage.

“A former employee of Hydro-Québec made a first appearance in court Tuesday on charges that he fraudulently obtained a trade secret for the benefit of China, and he was ordered to remain detained ahead of a bail hearing. Yuesheng Wang, 35, appeared in Quebec court in Longueuil by videoconference and was assisted by a translator. Wang was detained at the RCMP’s headquarters in Montreal.

The resident of Candiac, on Montreal’s South Shore, is the first person in Canada to be charged with economic espionage under the Security of Information Act. Wang was also formally charged on Tuesday with three violations of the Criminal Code: using a computer fraudulently and without authorization; obtaining a trade secret by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means; and breach of trust.

Federal prosecutor Marc Cigana objected to bail in Wang’s case.“It’s our opinion, after studying all the circumstances and the evidence, that Mr. Wang is a flight risk,” Cigana told reporters after the court hearing.

Wang is alleged to have committed the crimes between Jan. 1, 2018 and Aug. 22, 2022, in the course of his duties at Hydro-Québec. Three of the four charges each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The breach of trust charge carries a maximum five-year sentence. The RCMP alleges that Wang conducted research for Chinese research centres and a Chinese university and that he published scientific articles and filed patents with them rather than with the Quebec utility. Police also alleged he used information without his employer’s consent, harming Hydro-Québec’s intellectual property.

The RCMP said its national security enforcement team began an investigation in August after receiving a complaint from Hydro-Québec’s corporate security branch.

Wang, who has a limited knowledge of English and does not speak French, shook his head as the charges were translated into Mandarin for him in court on Tuesday.[Little English; no French — how did this guy get into Canada? Who specifically — the bureaucrats name, please — was responsible?]He tried to have his bail hearing held immediately, but was advised by his lawyer to delay. Quebec court Judge Anne-Marie Beauchemin ordered Wang remanded to a detention centre.

 The case was put off until Friday, when more evidence will be disclosed and when the parties will discuss scheduling a bail hearing. Neither lawyer could say following Tuesday’s hearing whether Wang has Canadian citizenship. [Isn’t that a rather important point?]

Wesley Wark, an expert on national security and intelligence issues, said the Wang case isn’t the first economic espionage incident in the country but is the first case that has led to charges under the 21-year-old Security of Information Act. Wark, a senior fellow at the think tank Centre for International Governance Innovation, said the case is “unusual.” …

‘It takes us into the world of university research and university publications, and it’s an important area to wade into, but also very complex in terms of being able to then reach back and pin an economic espionage charge against him.’  The definition of “trade secret” is very broad, Wark said, which may make the case difficult to prove in court. He said the charges demonstrate that much of the espionage activity in Canada is occurring outside the orbit of the federal government and within the private sector.

Hydro-Québec said Wang was a researcher who worked on battery materials with the Centre of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, known as CETEES. The centre develops technology for electric vehicles and for energy-storage systems.

In a statement, the utility said its security team launched a probe before it called federal authorities, adding that Wang has been fired. Wang, Hydro-Québec noted, didn’t have access to the utility’s “core mission,” and it said his access was revoked when suspicions arose.” (Montreal Gazette, November 15, 2022)

It’s maddening that we aren’t allowed even to know Wang’s citizenship status. How did this person who speaks no French and little English even qualify to immigrate to Canada? The issue of double loyalty may be a political hand grenade. We’re not even allowed to ask the question. So, let’s put it a little differently. Shouldn’t Chinese immigrants, especially those from Red China, have to give strong evidence of their loyalty to Canada before being accepted? The few immigrants from Taiwan are mostly fiercely anti-communist as are many from Hong Kong. Red China is a different matter. Some immigrants are anti-communist. Some come here for a better and much cheaper education and a much cleaner environment than the Chinese Mainland. Many remain fiercely proud of China which is now an economic powerhouse and a resurgent military power. It’s these people who are susceptible to calls to help Red China through espionage.

  • A week later, we discovered a little more about the alleged spy: “Wang, a Chinese national on a work visa for his job with the Quebec utility, put up his suburban Montreal home and a downtown condominium as an assurance he would remain in Canada.” (National Post, November 25, 2022) Why was he granted a work visa? What security check was done on him? How did this 35-year old amass so much property? Was he getting by frugally on a bowl of rice and crickets per day?

Charles Burton warns:  “The [Red Chinese] propaganda campaign, which includes conspiracy theories promulgated by pro-Beijing Chinese language media in Canada, threatens our democracy. It already cost Canadian [Conservative] MPs of Chinese heritage their seats in the last election, and because we do nothing about it, we can expect more in the next election. The Chinese-language media’s hate-mongering includes accusations of pervasive racism against everybody in Canada with Chinese ancestry. Readers of China’s WeChat and other platforms are implored to respond by identifying with the Motherland and becoming loyal to the Chinese Communist Party.

Canada seems incapable of doing anything about China, due to the incompatibility of the Ottawa doctrine that we must maintain close relations with Beijing regardless of public opinion. When China’s ambassador in Ottawa threatened Canada about crossing a ‘red line’ on Taiwan, warning officials to draw lessons from the past (read: hostage diplomacy) if our MPs set foot in Taiwan, our prime minister didn’t even condemn the remarks, but simply urged MPs to reflect on the ‘consequences’ of such a visit.” (Toronto Star, August 28, 2022)

New Fears Over Chinese Espionage Grip Washington

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New Fears Over Chinese Espionage Grip Washington
by Morgan Chalfant – June 24, 2018

Fresh concerns over Chinese espionage are gripping Washington as lawmakers fear Beijing is gaining sensitive details on U.S. technologies.Lawmakers are scrutinizing the Pentagon over its efforts to keep military secrets safe from hackers, after Chinese actors allegedly breached a Navy contractor’s computer and collected data on submarine technology. U.S. officials stepped up warnings that China regularly steals American intellectual property and technology, through cyberattacks and other means — allegations Beijing denies.

The issue took center stage at a congressional hearing Thursday, as lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee pressed Trump administration officials on their efforts to protect U.S. military assets from Chinese spies. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that hackers linked to the Chinese government had penetrated computers used by a contractor working for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in January and February. The hackers stole over 600 gigabytes of data, including information on a secret submarine technology project.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, did not explicitly reference the incident, but noted a recent briefing on a cyber breach had left him concerned about the military’s protections against foreign-aligned hackers.

“It was shocking how disorganized, unprepared and quite frankly utterly clueless the branch of the military was that had been breached,” Smith said. “Even in this day and age, we haven’t figured out how to put together a cyber policy to protect our assets, in particular with our defense contractors we work with who store our data but not with adequate protection.”

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a member of the committee, confirmed to The Hill after the hearing that lawmakers had been briefed on the incident, but declined to offer further details.

“The Armed Services Committee is engaged and we are meeting with [the Defense Department] to understand who was breached and what was taken,” Langevin said. He agreed that the government is not adequately addressing threats to the military supply chain.

“I’m going to be pressing to make sure that we rework and redo our contracting authority to require stronger cybersecurity protections,” he added.

The concerns over Chinese espionage are not limited to military technology.

Last Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to investigate research partnerships between Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and U.S.-based universities. They suggested the partnerships could provide Beijing an avenue for stealing technologies being developed in America, posing a threat to national security. Huawei declined to comment on the letter Friday.

Officials and lawmakers are trying to address the scope of the problem. At the hearing Thursday, officials described a multifaceted effort by China to acquire information on U.S. technologies, particularly those developed for the government and military. It includes the pursuit of research partnerships with academic institutions and government laboratories, in addition to cyber espionage campaigns that target defense contractors and IT and communications providers, they said.

Kari Bingen, the principal deputy under secretary of Defense for intelligence, told lawmakers that the Pentagon is implementing a “more comprehensive approach” to protecting sensitive information held by defense contractors, as well as unclassified but still valuable information held by the American defense industrial base. Bingen declined to go into specific details in the public, unclassified hearing. But she did say the federal government needs to take a more aggressive approach to protecting sensitive information and deterring would-be hackers.

“There is a deep concern with [the] cyber data exfiltration issue, and it’s one that the Chinese in particular are targeting,” Bingen said.

“We are playing defense right now, particularly in the cyber domain, and we need to be playing offense.”

Security professionals observed a considerable decline in Chinese cyber espionage targeting U.S. businesses after a 2015 agreement between then-President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop supporting cyber-enabled intellectual property theft against the other country’s businesses.However, some cyber experts say that Chinese actors continued to target defense contractors to gain intelligence on military technology.

New research from cybersecurity firm Symantec suggests that Chinese cyber activity against U.S. targets could be picking up overall. The company revealed Tuesday that a previously unidentified Chinese cyber espionage group had breached satellite communications, telecommunications firms and geospatial imaging, as well as a defense contractor in the United States.

The company believes the hacks took place between November 2017 and early May of this year. They represent the first instance of the hacking group targeting U.S. organizations since 2015. Symantec has been tracking the group internally since 2013.

“This was an aggressive campaign,” said Jon DiMaggio, senior threat intelligence analyst at Symantec who led the research.

The hackers focused on the operational systems of the targets, suggesting they were interested in gaining intelligence on how the satellite systems work or monitoring or changing their data flow. DiMaggio also said the hackers could have sought access to the systems to potentially disrupt them if they wanted.

“Whether this is going to signify that there is this increase in those China-U.S. attacks, time will have to tell,” said DiMaggio. “But it was unexpected.”

The Symantec research, however, did not specifically link that activity to the Chinese government.

Asked about the research Thursday by an Armed Services lawmaker, Michael Griffin, undersecretary for research and engineering at the Pentagon, declined to comment but said such activity would concern him.

“That is a topic that I really do not want to discuss in a public setting. Broadly, your comment taken on its face is very concerning. It’s for me very concerning to have read about it in the papers,” Griffin told Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.).

“I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss this stuff in a more closed setting,” he added.

Espionage fears are also at play in the controversy over Chinese telecom firm ZTE, which is pitting the administration against Congress. Many argue that Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese firms could provide a means for Beijing to conduct spying on U.S. targets. The Commerce Department in April banned U.S. companies from doing business with ZTE, citing allegations the company violated Iran sanctions laws this year. The ban almost led to the company closing its doors before President Trump, locked in tense trade negotiations with China, backed a deal to keep ZTE alive. But lawmakers, who see ZTE as a national security threat, are seeking to block the administration from allowing the company to resume business with U.S. firms. On Monday, the Senate passed an annual defense policy bill that includes language keeping the penalties on ZTE in place. The administration, though, has vowed to try and remove that language from the final bill.