Canada clamps down on researchers with ties to China, Iran, Russia

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada on Tuesday clamped down on researchers affiliated with a list of mainly China-based universities to stop them working on subjects deemed sensitive or critical to Canadian national security.

In measures Ottawa said were aimed at shielding advanced and emerging technologies, government grants will not be provided to researchers with links to universities connected to defense and security entities of countries that could harm security.

The universities are mostly based in China but a few from Iran and Russia are also listed.

“While Canadian-led research is defined by its excellence and collaborative nature, its openness can make it a target for foreign influence,” the ministers of innovation, health, and public safety said in a joint statement.

An official said that while the policy affected only federal funding, the Ottawa government hoped it would used as guidance by provincial governments and Canadian institutions.

In 2022, Canada arrested and charged a researcher with espionage for allegedly trying to steal trade secrets to benefit China.

Canada is a member of the “Five Eyes” alliance with Britain, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. Last year the grouping’s intelligence chiefs accused China of intellectual property theft and using artificial intelligence for hacking and spying against the nations.

China routinely rejects such charges.

The U.S. has long accused China of intellectual property theft and the issue has been a major sore point in U.S.-China relations.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; editing by Mark Heinrich)