If you pay close attention to security matters, you may have noticed that Canada's spy agency has been paying awfully close attention to one country in particular these days: China.
First, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service revealed that about half of its counter-intelligence work focuses on monitoring suspected Chinese operatives in Canada. In April, CSIS Director Jim Judd appeared before a Senate committee to answer questions about foreign spies working in Canada, and he talked about China.
And now there's even more evidence that CSIS is preoccupied with China. Two weeks ago, a CSIS report was released under the Access to Information Act, and it noted that China is establishing a network of Confucius Institutes around the world, including a handful in Canada, to teach people about its language and culture, and to enhance its so-called soft power.
The report identifies the 2008 Beijing Olympics as the current focus of the soft power push, but it also says that once the Games are over, Confucius Institutes will "take a more prominent place in China's efforts to increase its standing in the world.”
CSIS is not alone in scrutinizing these Confucious Institutes. CSIS did decline our request for an interview, but now we're going to speak with someone who shares their suspicions. Chen Yonglin is a former Chinese diplomat who was posted in Australia before he defected in 2005. And he joined us in our Toronto studio.
Confucius Institutes: Director
Canada's first Confucius Institute opened its doors two years ago just outside Vancouver at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, or BCIT. More Confucius Institutes are being established at the University of Waterloo in Ontario; at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec; and in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Jim Reichert is the vice president of Research and International for BCIT, and he oversees the Confucius Institute there. We reached him in Burnaby, B.C.
Confucius Institutes: Prof
Confucius once counselled, "Study the past if you would define the future." And China is indeed working hard to redefine itself these days. For some more perspective on what this means, and how the Confucius Institute relates to that, we were joined by Wenran Jiang. He's the director of the University of Alberta's China Institute, where he also teaches political science. And he joined us from our studio in Edmonton.
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