Canadian federal police charged Yuesheng Wang, an electric vehicle battery researcher, with espionage. Wang worked for the Quebec utility company. It was alleged that it was sending trade secret information to China. The arrest of the 35-year-old researcher comes amid a barrage of accusations against the Asian country regarding interference. In addition, there have been reports of interference by the Asian giant in federal elections or reports of secret police stations in Canada’s largest city.
After several months of investigations, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested Wang for possible espionage as a member of Hydro-Québec. This company is the fourth largest hydroelectric power producer in the world. In addition to supplying power to all of Quebec, it supplies the neighboring city of Ontario and exports to the northwestern United States. In a statement, the utility said Wang was a researcher working on battery materials with the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage. The public firm made it clear that, before alerting the authorities, an internal security team had begun its own investigation.
Espionage on Canadian soil
During August, an integrated RCMP national security enforcement team initiated the investigation. By that time, the internal branch of the company had already carried out internal work in order to file the complaint against Wang. 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,” said Dominic Roy, senior director responsible for corporate security.
Roy also addressed a current issue and stressed that “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”. David Beaudoin, RCMP inspector, noted that “this is the first time this position has been presented in Canada”.
Information as the axis of power
The former employee did not have access to information relating to Hydro-Québec’s “core mission”. In addition, fearing espionage, their accesses were revoked at the first suspicions, the company reported. The center where Wang worked developed technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
In recent weeks, Canada has had to face more and more cases of Chinese interference in the country. Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, issued a warning about the “foul and aggressive game” that the Asian giant is playing with his country’s democratic institutions. Particularly, following accusations of “alleged” meddling in the 2019 federal elections.
Mélanie Joly, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, understands that the world’s most populous nation has become “increasingly disruptive” in recent years. In addition, Joly expressed that:
“The rise of China as a global player is reshaping the strategic outlook of all states in the region, including Canada.”
Wang is to appear on charges of obtaining trade secrets and unauthorized use of a computer. In addition, there is fraud to obtain trade secrets and breach of trust by a public official.