Leaked Chinese government documents received by The Epoch Times revealed how Beijing-funded projects enter into partnerships with overseas research institutions. Their specific aim is stealing technology from foreign countries. The projects were designed by the Ministry of Science and Technology and led by Hebei International Talent Exchange Association. In a report issued last November, the organization mentioned that its core purpose was to ensure foreign technology transfer to China.
“To achieve that goal, the document specified that the organization would expand cooperation channels with at least 50 international organizations; set up a minimum of four international scientific and technological cooperation activities; maintain at least 50 foreign technology projects; obtain at least five cooperation intention agreements; and target 60 to 80 foreign technical experts for recruitment,” according to The Epoch Times exposé.
The ultimate aim of technology “transfer” is to boost the international competitiveness of the coastal province of Hebei. The November report detailed a budget that allocated 1 million yuan (approx. $153,000) that was to be used to hire expert talent from abroad and fund whatever projects they wanted to establish in Hebei. The resulting technology transfer is estimated to reap profits of 10 million yuan (approx. $1.53 million).
In 2019, Hebei authorities had outlined guidelines regarding the procurement of foreign technology through the technology transfer tactic. This included “vigorously introducing” international talent in technical fields, improving the transfer process, and setting up high-level management teams. As part of these efforts, Hebei University of Engineering has established ties with four foreign universities — University College London, Universite Paris-Saclay in France, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Le Mans Universite in France. University College London ranks among the world’s top 10 universities.
Technology transfer conflict
Technology transfer has been a huge bone of contention in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. It’s one of the main reasons for the trade conflict between the two nations. A 2018 report by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) had discovered that Chinese joint ventures pressured American companies to transfer their technologies in order to get a license to operate in the country. The tech transfer policy is one of the key components for Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan that aims to make China the dominant technological power in the world.
Foreign technology is not only stolen through communist China’s transfer policy. The regime sends thousands of spies to the U.S. posing as researchers and students. A June 2020 report that looked at the transfer of American technology to the PLA military found that Beijing had established a competent espionage network specifically for this purpose.
“The PRC’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, for instance, requires all citizens and organizations to support, assist, and cooperate with national intelligence agencies and efforts… The PRC obliges its citizens to participate in these strategies, and has devoted significant state financing to develop its national defense science and technology ecosystem… At present, the PRC has as many as 100 specific state-directed plans that govern when and how to undertake such foreign technology acquisition work,” the report states.
In December, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced China’s tactic of stealing technology from other advanced nations. He said that much of the high-industrial base set up in communist China is based on stolen, not home-grown, tech. In the same month, the Department of Commerce banned dozens of Chinese companies from securing technology from the U.S. These firms are found to have ties with the Chinese military or are engaged in operations that conflict with American interests.