Chinese spies hiding in the canteen’s chop suey
News Corp again blows the whistle about China’s tilt to gather information in our universities and it is not trivial. Primrose Riordan writing in The Australian turns the spotlight on those universities.
About 300 Chinese military scholars have been sent to Australia — with at least 17 trying to obscure their links to the People’s Liberation Army — as part of an overt push by Beijing to gain access to the latest advanced Western technologies. The warning is contained in a study by Alex Joske at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute alleging that the PLA sends personnel to universities in member countries of the Five Eyes security alliance — Australia, the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand — to increase the military’s knowledge of advanced technologies.
Source: News Corp
China military targets top universities to access tech
“Over the past decade, Australia has been engaged in the highest level of this collaboration among the Five Eyes countries per capita, at six times the level in the US,” Mr Joske says.
The revelation came as the Chinese and Australian militaries held their 21st annual Defence Strategic Dialogue in Beijing yesterday.
The 300 figure is an estimate based on peer-reviewed articles by more than 2500 Chinese military scientists sent abroad as students or visiting scholars in the past decade.
The findings come amid a fight between universities and the Defence Department over a proposal giving Defence vast search-and-enter powers, as well as scrutiny over foreign passport holders conducting research in Australia. In a hearing last week, Defence officials warned that they needed the powers as some technologies being worked on in Australia might have a dual civilian and military use, including in weapons of mass destruction.
Mr Joske said China was not shy about explaining its strategy and that the PLA used the phrase “picking flowers in foreign lands to make honey in China” to explain how it leveraged overseas expertise to better its technology.
“They are quite clear that they are engaging in this research collaboration with the intention of improving their military technology,” he told The Australian.
The report also claims that of all the universities in the Five Eyes nations, the University of NSW published the most peer-reviewed literature in collaboration with PLA scientists. It found that, in 2015, UNSW hosted a mobile mapping technology conference attended by 40 Chinese military scientists. About 30 of the 40 scientists openly stated they were from China’s National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) or a Chinese arms manufacturer. The report says nine claimed to be from the Zhengzhou Institute of Surveying and Mapping. The report found that this institute no longer existed and was now the PLA Information Engineering University, a military academy.
The report found an associate professor at a PLA academy, Guo Jianfeng, visited Curtin University for a year in 2014. Instead of stating he was from the academy, he is listed as being from the Zhengzhou Surveying Institute. Curtin University declined to comment.
Among the top 10 universities outside China for PLA collaboration, UNSW was No 2 and Australian National University was No 8.
Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University was No 1.
Asked about the report, Nicholas Fisk, UNSW’s deputy vice-chancellor for research, said global collaboration was essential.
“UNSW acknowledges the importance of the rigorous peer-review system,” Professor Fisk said. “The system is the foundation for collaborative research, essential to building a global knowledge network.”
ANU declined to comment.