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Canada’s selection of a Chinese safety equipment company raised major concerns in the US

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Article author:

David Pugliese • • Citizen of Ottawa

Release date:

January 19, 2021 • • January 19, 2021 • • 3 minutes read File photo: A Nuctech Company logo at a trade fair in Germany in 2017. Photo by Dado Galdieri /.Bloomberg / file

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Canada’s decision to select a Chinese company to provide security equipment for embassies sparked major concerns in the White House last year.

While US officials sounded the alarm that Nuctech should equip Canadian embassies with X-ray machines, the Ottawa bureaucrats saw no problems with Procurement Canada and Global Affairs Canada.

Nuctech is closely associated with the Chinese military and the Chinese Communist Party.

A July 17 article in the National Post about the Nuctech deal caught the attention of the White House and prompted a senior US security officer to call a Canadian diplomat in Washington.

“The US is ‘quite concerned’ that GAC appears to have agreed to buy embassy security equipment from a Chinese company,” diplomat Martin Loken said in an email to Deputy Minister for Global Affairs Dan Danagher on Jan. July. A meeting was scheduled to discuss the situation, but Loken wanted “queues” that he could send to the White House in the meantime.

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GAC had issued a statement stating that the $ 6.8 million deal had no security concerns.

On the same day Loken emailed Danagher in Ottawa, security officers presented a report to the department highlighting the threat Nuctech posed to Canada.

“The constant supply of X-ray machines and their maintenance during Canadian missions abroad could be used for technical and insider espionage against GAC,” warned the GAC security team. “The Nuctech supplier, which has been excluded from contracts with US airports since 2014, poses an increased threat due to the company’s direct relationship with and legal obligations to Chinese authorities.”

The GAC and Procurement Canada records were made available to the House of Commons Government Operations Committee as part of its review of the controversial deal.

The National Post article also prompted an email from the Chinese Embassy in Canada to GAC official Matthew Pal. The content of the Chinese email is completely censored, as is the name of the Chinese official.

But the letter prompted Pal to point out that in a democracy journalists are free to report on matters. “As you know, Canada believes in freedom of expression and the media,” said Pal, the trade commissioner assigned to the China division, in response. “We believe that a fully independent press is essential to deliver accurate information and in-depth analysis to citizens.”

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The freedom of the press in China is severely restricted. In December, a Chinese citizen journalist was sentenced to four years in prison for reporting the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. In the past, China has complained to the Canadian government about the coverage it received from Canadian news outlets.

Procurement Canada handed over a Canadian company that sold x-ray machines and instead gave Nuctech the standing offer. The decision was based on the Chinese X-ray machines that met the requirements at the lowest price.

Among the records made available to the Commons Committee was an email dated June 11, 2020 from Cassandra Shannahan, a Procurement Canada employee, who pointed to a colleague who was very familiar with Nuctech because she was had placed them several orders for X-ray machines for the Canadian Border Services Agency. In that email, she noted that she had been contacted by Canadian security officials in 2019 and asked why she had given a Chinese company a border service contract with no security requirement. Shannahan explained to these officials that the CSBA deal had no security requirements. “Let me reiterate that I have no concerns about making this standing offer to Nuctech from a contractual point of view,” she stated in the June 11 email.

The global affairs security clearance conducted days after the news of the Nuctech deal was released warned that Nuctech had direct links with the People’s Liberation Army and the Chinese Communist Party.

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Public procurement officials noted in some of their emails that the deal with the Chinese company came at a time they described as sensitive.

Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated significantly after Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in December 2018. Her detention is widely viewed as retaliation against Canada for arresting Huawei Technologies Co.’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was charged with fraud in the United States

In an email response to the newspaper, Global Affairs Canada stated that the department “has not and will not take advantage of Nuctech’s ongoing offering”.

CONNECTED:
Sensitive Equipment Purchased from Global Affairs Canada without consulting a security professional: Report

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