This is clear from “Chinese Science Investigations”a major investigation of 350,000 science publications by a group of European journalists, Follow the Money and RTL Nieuws.
This relates to scientific knowledge of weapons technology, unmanned vehicles (UAVs), robotics and semiconductors, such as chips. The knowledge that China itself does not have but is essential to the country’s ambition to become the world’s largest military superpower by 2049.
Since the turn of the century, this relates to nearly three thousand (2994) studies in which European universities cooperate with Chinese military scientists.
European cooperation with Chinese military universities
Global military power in 2049
The universities of Great Britain have the closest links with Chinese military universities. Almost half (1389) of all studies were accounted for. Germany ranks second with 349 studies. Dutch universities ranked third with 288 publications.
When President Xi Jinping took office at the end of 2012, China was far behind the West technologically. Since then, China has been investing in the development of its universities and cooperating with foreign countries to gain knowledge there.
The communist country wants to be economically and militarily independent of the West by 2049. This requires “high-quality knowledge and technology to develop the armed forces”.
In 2010, the General Intelligence and Security Service AIVD had already warned universities about scientific espionage from China.
But this warning had little effect, because since 2013 there has been a sharp increase in the number of joint publications between Chinese and Dutch military universities.
The number of studies shows an increase
Collaboration makes money
“This kind of scientific research is at the service of the Chinese defense apparatus,” says Danny Pronk, a defense expert at the Clingendael Institute. The knowledge gained here is used for the “modernization and development of the People’s Liberation Army of China”.
For a long time, universities have considered cooperation with China an opportunity, and it also brings a lot of money to the tray. “We were very naive about it,” Pronk says. “Now the security aspects of this collaboration are more realistic and insightful, but we haven’t had that for a long time.”
The vast majority of studies (2210) were conducted with military scientists from the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT). The main military university in China, which is under the direct authority of the Chinese army and President Xi Jinping.
“I’m afraid that the biotechnology and knowledge has already been leaked,” Pronk says. “It may already be too late on some fronts.” “The modernization of the Chinese army has taken off tremendously in the past 10 years. The Netherlands should more strictly define the areas in which it is allowed and not allowed to cooperate with Chinese scientists.”
In response, Dutch universities have declared that they value academic freedom, but they have also paid attention in recent years to the risk of high-tech knowledge being leaked.
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