Ten­sions on the rise af­ter Huawei ar­rest

CANA­DIAN BUSI­NESSES FACE RE­TAL­IA­TORY RISK FROM CHINA

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS - Mike Blanch­field THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — OT­TAWA

Canada’s ar­rest of a Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­ec­u­tive in Van­cou­ver at the re­quest of the United States sparked wide­spread sur­prise, but in se­cu­rity and diplo­matic cir­cles it was pure deja vu.

Canada did a sim­i­lar favour for the Amer­i­cans in July 2014 when it ar­rested a Chi­nese busi­ness­man in Bri­tish Columbia for hack­ing the data bases of U.S. de­fence con­trac­tors to steal mil­i­tary se­crets.

In that case, Su Bin — a Chi­nese na­tional who had per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Canada — was even­tu­ally ex­tra­dited to the U.S. where he pleaded guilty in 2016 to a crim­i­nal con­spir­acy, years in the mak­ing, to steal U.S. mil­i­tary se­crets. He was sen­tenced to 46 months in prison.

But it’s what hap­pened a month af­ter Su’s ini­tial ar­rest that now has some spooked: Cana­di­ans Ju­lia and Kevin Gar­ratt, who lived three decades in China op­er­at­ing a cof­fee shop and do­ing Chris­tian aid work, were ar­rested and ac­cused of spy­ing and steal­ing mil­i­tary se­crets.

Now, there are fears of what China may do next.

The Gar­ratts have since been re­leased af­ter a two-year or­deal, but in light of last Satur­day’s ar­rest of Huawei Tech­nolo­gies’ chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Meng Wanzhou, con­cern is ris­ing that other Cana­di­ans in China are at risk of be­ing ar­rested in re­tal­i­a­tion.

“China will be fu­ri­ous and look for means of pun­ish­ing us, in part as an ex­am­ple for oth­ers,” David Mul­roney, a for­mer Cana­dian am­bas­sador to China, said Thurs­day.

“That could in­clude tit-for-tat moves against Cana­di­ans, a mo­tive that many, my­self in­cluded, sus­pect to have been at the bot­tom of the 2014 ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment of Cana­di­ans Ju­lia and Kevin Gar­ratt.”

That view is shared by other in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity an­a­lysts af­ter Canada’s Jus­tice De­part­ment said the U.S. is seek­ing Meng’s ex­tra­di­tion. Canada is not pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails about the case be­cause of a cour­tordered pub­li­ca­tion ban on her pend­ing bail hear­ing, and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said Thurs­day he’s not com­ment­ing on an in­de­pen­dent le­gal process.

“The Chi­nese are likely to play tit-for­tat on this one and we should be ready for it,” said Fen Hamp­son, the di­rec­tor of the global se­cu­rity pro­gram at the Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Gover­nance In­no­va­tion based in south­ern On­tario.

The CSE warned in a study for the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment last year that cy­berthreat ac­tiv­ity against the demo­cratic process is in­creas­ing around the world, and Canada is not im­mune. An up­dated ver­sion will be is­sued next spring, just months be­fore Cana­di­ans go to the polls.

Con­sid­er­able ev­i­dence has pointed to on­line Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

In Septem­ber of last year, Face­book said hun­dreds of du­bi­ous ac­counts, likely op­er­ated out of Rus­sia, spent about $100,000 on some 3,000 ads about con­tentious is­sues such as LGBT rights, race, im­mi­gra­tion and guns from June 2015 to May 2017. Mil­lions of peo­ple in the United States saw the ads.

In ad­di­tion, the U.S. Jus­tice De­part­ment has an­nounced in­dict­ments against Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence agents for al­legedly hack­ing Demo­cratic party emails and com­put­ers dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign.

In its re­port, the cen­tre lays out the cy­berthreats to Cana­dian busi­nesses, crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture and pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions gleaned through CSE data, gen­eral ex­per­tise and an assess­ment of the over­all land­scape.

“The in­ten­tion is not to scare Cana­di­ans away from us­ing tech­nol­ogy,” cen­tre head Scott Jones told a news con­fer­ence. “The assess­ment is meant to in­form Cana­di­ans of the threats they face, and will be used as a ba­sis for sim­ple things we can each do to make our­selves more se­cure.”

That can sim­ply mean keep­ing anti-virus soft­ware up­dated, be­ing cau­tious be­fore click­ing on links or check­ing the source of in­for­ma­tion to en­sure it is cred­i­ble.

“I’m not say­ing delete your ac­counts and move back to send­ing post­cards,” Jones said. “I’m say­ing, just con­sume it with a crit­i­cal eye and look for a more trusted source.”

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