Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
- In the early days of the pandemic, CanSino’s vaccine candidate was one of the most promising.
- The agreement with the NRC did not involve the transfer of sensitive Canadian technology – it would have seen vaccine technology transferred to Canada.
- In August, following the revised expert advice of the Vaccine Task Force the NRC ended the collaboration.
- No money was ever paid under the agreement.
- Today, Canada has secured the most diverse and extensive vaccine portfolio of any country in the world.
If pushed on CSIS advice:
- Unique national security challenges have surfaced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- CSIS has had to adapt to this new reality to provide security advice to the Government, including advice to partners [Redacted]
- As you can appreciate, I cannot go into the details of this advice here.
- Our security advice is one of the factors taken into consideration when the Government makes a decision with a national security implication; other factors may include the availability of mitigation measures and the level of risk tolerance.
- CSIS can provide classified information and have more in-depth discussions with NSICOP, which plays an important accountability role and is the link between Parliamentarians and the security and intelligence community.
If pushed on links between CanSino and the People’s Republic of China’s Thousand Talents Plan:
- CSIS is aware that foreign talent recruitment programs are used to advance the economic and strategic objectives of foreign states at the expense of Canada’s national interests.
- The Thousand Talents Plan is an example of academic talent plans that are used to advance foreign states’ interests.
- As stated publicly, CSIS has undertaken an outreach campaign to sensitize Canadian companies, academia, and other stakeholders involved in the efforts to combat COVID-19.
- Canadians can be assured that during these uncertain times, the Government of Canada will take measures to protect Canadians and their personal information from the threat of foreign interference and espionage, including our intellectual property.
On December 2, 2020, Global News published an article about Canada’s collaboration with CanSino on early COVID-19 vaccine research. It links top executives from CanSino to the People’s Republic of China’s Thousand Talents Plan (TTP). The article also highlights the Thousand Talents Plan’s reach in Canada and quotes experts to the effect red flags should have been raised on the deal.
The article points out that several experts and former CSIS officials were interviewed saying that CanSino’s Canadian-educated scientists were likely seen as potential assets by the Chinse Communist Party information collection networks. Notably, it quotes Michel Juneau Katsuya saying the TTP is supported by the United Front Work Department’s own efforts in Canada. In addition, former CIS Director Ward Elcock is also quoted. He mentions China will make use of every opportunity, and that the Thousand Talents plan is one of those opportunities and vector of intelligence collection.
Furthermore, the article mentions that the co-founder of CanSino, Ceo Dr. Xuefeng Yu and executive director Dr. Tao Zhu, have been listed as members of China’s Thousand Talents Plan. Global News refers to the TTP as a recruiting strategy started in 2008 which is now coming under increasing scrutiny from intelligence agencies in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
Of note, article quotes a Canadian security consultant who highlights the agency responsible for the CanSino collaboration— the National Research Council (NRC) — should have seen red flags surrounding a CanSino partnership. The article points to past examples such as the NRC having been targeted in a Chinese cyberattack in 2014, and another case reported on by Global News with regard to a McGill University academic being accused in the United States of secretly sending sensitive technologies to China to modernize its military units.
Prepared by: N/A
Approved by: Tricia Geddes, Deputy Director Policy and Strategic Partnerships, [redacted]
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