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Alberta orders major universities to suspend pursuit of new partnerships with China

Alberta has ordered four universities to suspend pursuing partnerships with individuals or organizations linked to the Chinese government, citing national security concerns and the risk that the research could be used to facilitate human-rights abuses, reported The Globe and Mail.

The order affects the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge and Athabasca University.

Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides, has also requested that the boards of governors at these universities prepare reports within 90 days detailing all agreements, research relationships, institutional relationships and joint ventures with anything connected to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Nicolaides has also asked for details on the “scope and scale” of all university ties to Chinese companies, government agencies or institutions.

In addition, Nicolaides said Alberta welcomes a comprehensive national framework from Ottawa on these serious pressing issues, since national security and intelligence are primarily the federal government’s domain.

Earlier in May, The Globe and Mail also reported on the University of Alberta’s extensive scientific collaboration with China, which involves sharing and transferring research in nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

The Globe and Mail also reported that a study by the Australian Strategy Policy Institute revealed Canada is the third-largest destination for scientists affiliated with the Chinese military.

The Chinese military has increased its ties to universities in a policy known as military-civil fusion to boost its scientific expertise, reported The Globe and Mail. Part of the strategy is to obtain research data from Western universities in key areas that service the communist government’s purposes.