The discovery of Chinese monitoring buoys in the Arctic Ocean by the Canadian military has sparked pressing concerns about Beijing’s interventions in Canadian affairs, including interference in recent federal elections, reported The Globe and Mail.
The incident came days after a US fighter jet shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon that had entered American airspace after flying over Canada.
The buoys were spotted by the Canadian Armed Forces as part of Operation Limpid, a continuing effort to provide early detection of threats to Canada’s security.
A monitoring buoy is generally used as a locator or warning point for the vessels, besides serving the purpose of more traditional sensing and navigational instrumentation. However, these buoys are also regularly used globally for military surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations.
Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations at the Department of National Defence, did not provide details on the effort to retrieve the buoys, but confirmed the interception, reported The Globe and Mail.
“The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are fully aware of recent efforts by China to conduct surveillance operations in Canadian airspace and maritime approaches utilizing dual-purpose technologies,” he said in a statement.
Notably, dual-purpose technology is equipment that can be used for both civilian and military applications.
“Under Operation LIMPID, the CAF monitors Canada’s air, land and sea approaches, and since 2022, it has stopped attempts to surveil Canadian territory,” he added.
Retired lieutenant-general Michael Day said the Chinese buoys would likely have been used to monitor US nuclear submarine traffic in the Arctic, and for mapping seabeds and ice thickness. Beijing is eyeing shipping through northern waters, which are becoming more navigable as a result of climate change, reported The Globe and Mail.
Day said Beijing is also interested in trying to exploit the Arctic seabed’s significant resource deposits, and in keeping tabs on Canadian and US military activities.
Since the fall, Parliament has been grappling with allegations of Chinese interference in Canadian politics. The Commons committee on procedure and House affairs have been probing whether Beijing meddled in the 2019 federal election.
The committee met Tuesday to expand its study to include the 2021 election, in response to a report in The Globe and Mail that Chinese diplomats and their proxies had worked to influence voters to elect a Liberal minority that year, and defeat Conservatives whom Beijing viewed as anti-China.
Based on secret and top-secret Canadian Security and Intelligence Service documents, The Globe revealed that China’s tactics in 2021 included making illegal cash donations, spreading disinformation and using paid students to help preferred Liberal candidates.
The Globe has also reported that Canadian politicians, officials and business executives are the main targets of Chinese government espionage that employs blackmail, bribery and sexual seduction, with Beijing even enlisting the Bank of China in its foreign-influence activities.
Secret and top-secret CSIS documents viewed by The Globe outline how China instructed its consulates and visa offices to alert Beijing to prominent and influential Canadians – whom it called “work targets” – planning to visit China.
In addition, the Bank of China has been told to inform consulates of the travel plans of Canadian business executives attending conferences sponsored by the state-owned financial institution, according to a Feb. 2, 2022 intelligence report that is rated top secret.
Documents also show that Chinese diplomats quietly issued warnings to “friendly” influential Canadians in early 2022, advising them to reduce their contact with federal politicians to avoid being caught up in foreign-interference investigations by Canada’s spy agency. (ANI)