Federal Court bars Chinese engineering student from entering Canada over 'non-traditional' espionage claims

The Chinese student in question reportedly studied microfluidics at a university in Beijing and was planning to attend the University of Waterloo.

Federal Court bars Chinese engineering student from entering Canada over 'non-traditional espionage' claims
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According to a Federal Court judge,  a Chinese engineering student with plans to study in Canada is a potential spy.

As reported in the Globe and Mail, Federal Court Chief Justice Paul Crampton declared that the student in question, Yuekang Li, has plans that meet the criteria of “non-traditional" espionage.

The Globe and Mail report noted that Li was intending to study under a leading researcher at the University of Waterloo. His plan was to return to China to help increase the effectiveness of its health-care system after his studies in Canada.

Although the court conceded that there is currently no evidence to suggest Li has engaged in espionage or has been asked to do so, his previous attendance at a university in Beijing with ties to the Chinese defence industry raised suspicions.

Li's field of study and China's track-record of using students to gain access to highly sophisticated foreign technology also contributed to the decision.

In a December 22 ruling, Chief Justice Crampton wrote, “As hostile state actors increasingly make use of non-traditional methods to obtain sensitive information in Canada or abroad, contrary to Canada’s interests, the Court’s appreciation of what constitutes ‘espionage’ must evolve.”

Li claimed that it's purely "speculation" to suggest that he may at one point in time be pressured into becoming a spy for the Chinese Communist Party.

According to the Globe and Mail report, the lawyer representing Li, Raymond Lo, said that “I think it is a shame that officers are refusing such talented individuals who have a lot to contribute to Canadian research based on what may possibly happen, largely relying on general reports rather than the individual’s past actions."

The ruling is expected to have a significant impact on potential foreign researchers and has seemingly expanded the government's definition of espionage.

The Chinese Communist Party has been accused of operating overseas "police stations", with several allegedly being located in Canada. The "police stations" are reportedly used to target Chinese nationals living in foreign countries in an effort to intimidate them into complying with the regime's demands.

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