China is reportedly enrolling military scientists into western universities to gain intel on areas like “hypersonic missiles and navigation technology.”
The nation’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came up with the moniker “Five Eyes countries” to denote the preferred targets for infiltration (America, U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), according to a new report released by a think tank tied to Australia’s defense ministry.
“Dozens of PLA scientists have obscured their military affiliations to travel to Five Eyes countries and the European Union, including at least 17 to Australia, where they work in areas such as hypersonic missiles and navigation technology,” reads the official report. “Those countries don’t count China as a security ally but rather treat it as one of their main intelligence adversaries.”
Additionally, the groundbreaking report details how the PLA has inserted thousands worldwide over the past decade as “students or visiting scholars” while continuously augmenting their findings as peer-reviewed literature in “strategic and emerging technology sectors.”
“The PLA has sponsored more than 2,500 military scientists and engineers to study abroad and has developed relationships with researchers and institutions across the globe,” reports the think tank. “Those scientists work in strategic and emerging technology sectors such as quantum physics, signal processing, cryptography, navigation technology and autonomous vehicles.”
Moreover, a PLA outlet bluntly describes the intelligence campaign as “picking flowers in foreign lands to make honey in China.”
Correspondingly, China has pursued other continents for different reasons, specifically Africa, to such a degree that it has been accused of engaging in a “new colonialism” and even “debt trap” diplomacy due to the host countries becoming deeply indebted to Chinese lenders.
For example, in early September, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion to African leaders with “no political strings attached” to expand China’s “Belt and Road” initiative (BRI) to build ports and other infrastructure.
BRI could prove to be lucrative for China as the infrastructure projects will be financed by loans from China’s state-owned banks while being built by Chinese contractors.
Alternatively, African leaders are historically keen to accept Chinese offers because they “come without demands for safeguards against corruption, waste, and environmental damage.”