Spec­u­la­tion will mar probe on Cana­di­ans

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Kevin and Ju­lia Dawn Gar­ratt, a Cana­dian cou­ple liv­ing in China, are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the State Se­cu­rity Bureau of Dan­dong, a city in Liaon­ing province bor­der­ing the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea, in line with Chi­nese laws, Xin­huaNews Agency said on Aug 4. The cou­ple ran a cof­fee shop in Dan­dong.

“Kevin Gar­ratt and his wife are sus­pected of col­lect­ing and steal­ing in­tel­li­gence ma­te­ri­als re­lated to Chi­nese mil­i­tary tar­gets and im­por­tant Chi­nese na­tional de­fense sci­en­tific re­search pro­grams, and en­gag­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties that en­dan­ger China’s na­tional se­cu­rity,” the For­eignMin­istry said a day later. Liaon­ing’s provin­cial se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties have no­ti­fied the Cana­dian Em­bassy about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the fact that the cou­ple’s “var­i­ous rights have been fully guar­an­teed”.

These are all we know about the sus­pected spy­ing case in­volv­ing the Cana­dian cou­ple. Although lim­ited, the in­for­ma­tion is enough to tell us that the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have kept the re­lated par­ties in­formed about the devel­op­ment and adopted nor­mal pro­ce­dures to take the case for­ward. Given their highly sen­si­tive na­ture, it is com­mon for coun­tries not to dis­close de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on es­pi­onage cases un­til in­ves­ti­ga­tions are com­plete be­cause do­ing so could jeop­ar­dize the probes.

Nev­er­the­less, the news of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion against the Gar­ratt cou­ple has been greeted with spec­u­la­tions in Cana­dian and oth­erWestern me­dia out­lets, with some ques­tion­ing the tim­ing of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and link­ing it to Canada’s re­cent ac­cu­sa­tion thatChi­nese hack­ers had in­fil­trated com­put­ers at the Cana­di­anNa­tional Re­search Coun­cil. Their hint is that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion against the Gar­ratts is in re­tal­i­a­tion to Canada’s ac­cu­sa­tions. Some have used lurid words to de­scribe the case and ques­tion China’s mo­tive, with one say­ing, “it is the first time that for­eign­ers are charged with the crime of steal­ing mil­i­tary se­crets in­China since its cul­tural revo­lu­tion (1966-76)”.

The Global News, a Cana­dian news­pa­per, con­ducted a long in­ter­view with the cou­ple’s two sons and quoted them as say­ing that they doubted the le­git­i­macy of China’s move. “It sounds ridicu­lous”, one of the cou­ple’s sons was quoted by CBC News Net­work as say­ing. “It just seems likemy par­ents are caught up in some sort of a po­lit­i­cal mess and it’s not ac­tu­ally any­thing to do with them. It just hap­pens to be that they’re Cana­di­ans and fit the type of peo­ple that needed to be made an ex­am­ple of,” the other son was cited as say­ing on Tues­day.

Reuters even said that, “China’s state se­crets lawis no­to­ri­ously broad, cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from in­dus­try data to the ex­act birth dates of State lead­ers”, and that “the theft of State se­crets is pun­ish­able with life in prison or the death penalty in China”, hint­ing that the law­could be abused in China.

But since the truth be­hind the case is still not known, bi­ased and sen­sa­tional re­port­ing will only con­fuse the pub­lic and in­ter­fere with the in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

China’s re­mark­able progress and re­spect for the rule of laware proof that it has no ul­te­rior mo­tives. But by mak­ing great ad­vances on the eco­nomic, so­cial and mil­i­tary and other fronts, China has also made it­self the tar­get of spy­ing by some for­eign coun­tries. Facts show that China has been one of the world’s largest vic­tims of hack­ing and es­pi­onage in re­cent years.

China has been tar­geted not only by for­eign spies, but also by some Chi­nese peo­ple who were bought by for­eign in­tel­li­gence agen­cies to steal China’s State se­crets. The most re­cent case is the prose­cu­tion of a stu­dent ma­jor­ing in aero­nau­tics and as­tro­nau­tics at a univer­sity in­Harbin, Hei­longjiang province, by lo­cal procu­ra­tors on the charge of re­ceiv­ing money to col­lect in­ter­nal con­fi­den­tial ma­te­ri­als for a for­eign agent.

China is a coun­try gov­erned by law, and all cases, in­clud­ing sus­pected es­pi­onage cases, will be han­dled ac­cord­ing to the la­wof the land fol­low­ing nor­mal ju­di­cial pro­ce­dure. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion against the Cana­dian cou­ple will not be an ex­cep­tion.

There is, there­fore, noneed to pub­lish or tele­cast spec­u­la­tive re­port­son­the case. In­stead, in­ves­tiga­tive of­fi­cers should be given time todotheir job sin­cerelyand thor­oughly to dig out the truth. The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily. wuy­ixue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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