Canada’s first economic espionage

For the first time in Canadian history, the RCMP has laid down charges for economic espionage, in a story that feels ripped from the pages of a John Grisham novel.

What happened: A former researcher who worked in the electric batteries unit at Hydro-Quebec has been accused of collecting trade secrets and passing them on to China. 

  • The suspect, Yuesheng Wang, reportedly began researching and submitting patents in 2018 for several Chinese research institutions instead of his employer.

Wang has been charged through Section 19 of The Security of Information Act which, despite being on the books for 21 years, had never been used before. 

Why it matters: As Canada makes strides in taking its share of the $3 billion electric battery market, this alleged espionage serves as a reminder of “how careful we'll need to be [with respect to the battery ecosystem]," said Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne

  • RCMP Inspector David Beaudoin told The Globe, “Such collaborations are becoming more common… this type of charge might be getting more common in the future.”

Zoom out: The incident comes on the heels of three Chinese companies being ordered to exit Canadian lithium mining for national security reasons and broader revelations about a network of Chinese ‘police stations’ and accused of meddling in the last federal elections