Senator Ngo outraged at latest government decision to award security contract to Chinese state-owned enterprise
[For immediate release]- August 26, 2020
Senator Thanh Hai Ngo issued the following Statement in response to the Government of Canada’s decision to award an estimated 6.8M security equipment contract to a Chinese government-owned firm:
Nuctech, a state-owned Chinese company, founded by the son of former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Hu Jintao, and described as a “threat to western security” by the U.S. National Security Council, has just been awarded an estimated 6.8M contract to supply sensitive security equipment for all 170 of our embassies, consulates and high commissions worldwide. If the tech firm’s close links to the most senior echelons of the CCP doesn’t raise red flags, then its most unenviable global reputation –mired in scandal (which includes controversial business practices and allegations of corruption) certainly should. To put it mildly, this decision is only the latest policy blunder in our government’s embarrassing track-record of appeasement and colossal political ineptitude when it comes to the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC).
In retaliation for the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the United States in December 2018, we suffered significant trade bans to key Canadian exports (such as canola, soy and meat). The ‘two Michaels’ (Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor), our very own Canadian nationals, were arbitrarily detained only two days after Meng’s arrest. Then came the global coronavirus pandemic which first emerged in Wuhan, China: with strong evidence to suggest the Chinese government’s direct responsibility in concealing crucial facts about the virus, resulting in an unprecedented and devastating global shutdown, millions of people infected, and more than 822 000 lives lost. Despite all this, our government saw perfectly fit to procure essential and life-saving personal protective equipment from China (which in many instances turned out to be defective); and collaborate with a Chinese biopharmaceutical firm, Cansino Biologics and the Chinese military’s research unit to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. This most recent awarding of a security contract to a hostile Chinese state-owned enterprise, therefore, should come as no surprise and should raise serious questions on the impartiality of our senior officials vis-a-vis Beijing’s influence.
Allowing back-door access to critical security infrastructure is all the more disturbing given China’s extensive history of cyber-espionage and foreign interference. China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law explicitly mandates that Chinese entities and individuals operating outside China (including state and private sector companies) are compelled to cooperate with the PRC’s Intelligence Services (PRCIS). Security experts have raised major concerns, pointing out that essentially any electronic equipment could provide a potential point of entry to access a network or data. Moreover, the annual 2019 report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), in its findings, qualifies China as a threat to our national security – particularly in the areas of espionage, foreign influence and cyber threats. Just how many more compelling reasons are required before our government heeds the warnings and affords this grave and growing danger the seriousness it deserves?
What renders the situation even more outrageous and incomprehensible, is the fact that a completely competent Canadian company (which would have provided good jobs to Canadians at a time of massive unemployment) had also submitted a bid. Needless to say, most Canadian companies wouldn’t stand a chance in the bidding process against a Chinese company subsidized by the Chinese state’s deep coffers. Our short-sighted procurement policies based on price alone, awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, only serve to further enable aggressive Chinese geo-economic practices. In general, one way to counter this would be to establish more robust security screening processes of state-owned enterprises. More specifically, in the case of China, however, we need to ask ourselves why we continue to do business with this belligerent and tyrannical regime in the first place.
In the interests of Canadians and our national security, the government of Canada should ensure that all appropriate actions are taken to protect Canadians and preserve the safety of our foreign missions. As a first step, the most effective way to do so would be to swiftly terminate this “standing offer” with Nuctech.
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo