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Canada Cracks Down on China, Russia, Iran Research Tie Ups

(Bloomberg) -- Canada unveiled new rules aimed at preventing sensitive technological research developed in the country from being transferred to China, Iran or Russia.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government on Tuesday produced a list of dozens of foreign institutes, schools and laboratories it says are linked to entities that might pose a risk to Canada’s national security.

The government won’t finance sensitive research projects — including those related to artificial intelligence, advanced energy technology and aerospace and satellite systems — if they’re affiliated in any way with the listed institutions.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported last year that researchers at dozens of Canadian universities have worked with scientists connected to the Chinese military. Soon after, the government signaled its intention to stop funding such projects.

The new rules establish a list of sensitive research areas, such as advanced weapons, digital infrastructure and life-science technology. Any project in those fields that’s receiving money from one of the listed institutes would be ineligible for a Canadian government grant.

The organizations are primarily based in China, but the list also includes several from Russia and Iran. They include China’s National University of Defense Technology, various Chinese military schools and Iran’s Imam Hossein University, which focuses on nuclear research.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Wednesday that Canada was using national security as an excuse to suppress Chinese universities and scientific institutions. “This decision is not wise,” she said.

Canada is growing more worried about strategic research falling into the hands of foreign adversaries, government officials said during a media briefing. Tuesday’s move follows a recent Federal Court decision that denied a Chinese resident’s application to study at a Canadian university due to espionage concerns.

Some countries have gone further — the Netherlands is working on legislation that would be used to bar Chinese students from university programs on sensitive technologies including semiconductors and defense. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has restricted colleges and universities from taking money from, or forming partnerships with, China or any other foreign “country of concern”.

--With assistance from Martin Ritchie, Jon Herskovitz and Colum Murphy.

(Updates with comment from China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in seventh paragraph.)

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