Canada’s federal police have charged a hydroelectricity researcher at Quebec’s power utility with espionage, alleging the worker was covertly sending trade secrets to China.
The arrest of Yuesheng Wang, 35, comes as Canada grapples with a barrage of accusations of Chinese interference, including allegations of meddling in its federal elections, as well as reports of secret “police stations” in the country’s largest city.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced the arrest of Wang, a researcher with Hydro-Québec, on Monday following a months-long investigation.
Hydro-Québec, the fourth-largest hydropower producer in the world, is a provincially owned energy provider, overseeing the distribution of power throughout Quebec, as well as export to the north-eastern United States and to neighbouring Ontario.
In a statement, Hydro-Québec said Wang was a researcher who worked on battery materials with the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, known as Cetees. The utility said its security team had launched its own investigation before quickly flagging authorities.
The RCMP’s integrated national security enforcement team (Inset) began an investigation in August after Hydro-Québec’s corporate security branch filed a complaint about Wang.
“Our detection and intervention mechanisms allowed our investigators to bring this matter to the attention of the RCMP, with whom we have worked closely ever since,” said Dominic Roy, senior director responsible for corporate security.
“No organization is safe from a situation like this one, which is why we must always remain vigilant and transparent, and we must not tolerate violations of the company’s code of ethics.
The former employee did not have access to information related to Hydro-Québec’s “core mission” and his accesses were revoked when suspicions arose, the company added. It said the centre where he worked developed technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
In recent weeks, Canada has contended with increasingly brazen instances of Chinese interference in the country. Justin Trudeau last week warned China was “play[ing] aggressive games” with the country’s democratic institutions, following allegations it had meddled in the 2019 federal election. The RCMP has also said it is investigating reports of secret “police stations” in Toronto.