Speculation will mar probe on Canadians
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. email@example.com