“National security takes precedence over scientific freedom,” Minister Djgraf told the critical parliament. He admitted that we in the Netherlands have been very naive in recent years towards countries like China, who come here to gather our knowledge. But the universities and the ministry are now aware of the risks and are actively working to resolve them.
More than a week ago, Director of Military Intelligence Jan Suelins (MIVD) warned against far-reaching cooperation between Dutch universities and Chinese military universities. “As a result, high-quality Dutch knowledge ends up in Chinese weapons and this is concerning,” he told RTL Nieuws.
Minister Djgraf now has a list of technical studies that the AIVD, MIVD and NCTV consider high risk. This may include aerospace engineering, quantum computers, and materials with military applications. In addition to the list of fields of study, there may also be a list of other Chinese and foreign military universities that are not allowed to cooperate. These lists should be ready by the end of the year.
Before cooperating with a foreign university, Dutch universities must register cooperation with Knowledge Security Office† This counter consists of a group of government security experts and checks if there is any undesirable transfer of knowledge and hidden influence. This office can give the university urgent advice to terminate cooperation if there is a significant risk associated with the cooperation.
Cooperation cannot be prevented, but Minister Djgraf says he has enough confidence that universities will adopt a recommendation from the Office of Knowledge Security. The ban is only possible if there is cooperation with countries subject to UN sanctions, such as North Korea and Iran.
Universities should also review all existing cooperation with foreign universities. When there is a risky partnership in which sensitive knowledge disappears outside, it must be stopped.
The minister will set up an external audit committee to check whether universities have already identified and ended all risky collaborations.
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