On October 14, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police(RCMP) announced the arrest of a researcher working for a Montreal-area utility company on suspicion of sending trade secrets to China.

Yuesheng Wang, 35, from Candiac, south of Montreal, was a battery materials researcher with Hydro-Quebec’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage. After detecting several suspicious movements, Hydro-Quebec’s corporate security officers launched a joint investigation with the RCMP’s national security team in August.

Dominic Roy, senior director responsible for corporate security at the company, announced, “Our detection and intervention mechanisms enabled our investigators to bring this matter to the attention of the RCMP, with whom we have worked closely ever since.”

He added, “No organization is safe from a situation like this, so we must always remain vigilant and transparent, and we must not tolerate violations of the company’s code of ethics.”

After months of investigation, an RCMP representative stated in a release, “Mr. Wang allegedly obtained trade secrets to benefit the People’s Republic of China, to the detriment of Canada’s economic interests.”

“Foreign actors interference is a priority for many intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world.”

 “Hydro-Quebec is considered critical infrastructure and a strategic interest that must be protected.”

Wang was apparently seeking information related to Hydro-Quebec’s “core mission.” As suspicions arose months earlier, the company’s security officers revoked his access.Wang is due to appear in court in Longueuil on charges of unlawfully obtaining trade secrets, unauthorized use of a computer, fraud for obtaining trade secrets, and breach of trust by a public official.

Prior to his work since 2016 at the public company, the defendant served as a researcher at the University of Arkansas in the U.S. and at the University of London. He holds a doctorate from the institute of physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a master’s degree in materials engineering, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Hydro-Quebec, the world’s fourth-largest hydroelectric power producer, is a provincial public power supplier that is responsible for distribution in Quebec, as well as export to the northeastern United States and the province of Ontario.

Growing tension

The event comes against the backdrop of increasingly tense relations with the Chinese regime.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned on November 7, that China was “playing aggressive games” with the country’s democratic institutions. 

Regarding Trudeau’s comments the Prime Minister’s office said, “Protecting the safety and security of Canadians is our top priority. Threats, harassment, or intimidation of Canadian citizens are unacceptable, and our security agencies thoroughly investigate all allegations of interference.”

The statement goes on to say, “As threats evolve, so must the methods used to address them. That’s why the prime minister has given the minister of public safety a mandate to improve collaboration among Canadian security agencies.”

Days before Trudeau’s statements, the RCMP reported that investigations are underway into clandestine Chinese police stations operating in Toronto. These police stations are allegedly operating outside local authorities, and pressuring and intimidating Chinese citizens to return home. This project, which goes by the name of “Fox Hunt,” targets individuals who have committed crimes, but reports suggest that it is also used to attack dissent. Its methods of deterrence includes torture, coercion, and threats to the individual and their family members in China.

A series of harassment incidents have been reported against prominent Uyghur and Tibetan students at Ontario universities. Reports are that they have been “coordinated” through the Chinese Consulate in Toronto. 

 As Canada prepares a strategy to deal with this type of covert aggression, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said the world’s most populous nation has become “increasingly disruptive” in recent years.

She said, “It seeks to shape the global environment into one that is more permissive of interests and values that are increasingly distant from our own.”

 Joly added, “And China’s rise as a global player is reshaping the strategic outlook of all states in the region, including Canada.”

In early November, the Canadian government ordered China to immediately sell its stakes in three Canadian mining companies, deeming such investments to be in conflict with national security interests.

The minerals and metals obtained in these mines, such as lithium, cadmium, nickel, and cobalt, are indispensable in the development of new technologies applied in the civil and military fields. Everything from aircraft parts to solar panels, batteries, and computers, depend on these products. 

In recent years, China has created a network of extraction of critical minerals in several countries, making it the world’s largest refiner and processor.

To break this dependence, several countries, such as Great Britain, Canada, the U.S., and Australia, have established a series of agreements to ensure access to these raw materials and escape the Chinese monopoly.

 Sino-Canadian relations were seriously damaged after the events involving Meng Wanzhou, director of Huawei, and two Canadian citizens.

In 2018, Canadian police arrested Meng at Vancouver airport at the request of the United States. She was accused of selling products to Iran. In retaliation, the Chinese regime arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on espionage charges.

All were released in 2021 after the exchange of the detainees.

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