All Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences do this: collaborate with institutions or scientists from abroad. But this is not without risks. They warn that China and Russia in particular are interested in high-quality Dutch technology. The Netherlands is not vigilant enough about this.
Security agencies and the National Coordinator for Security and Counter-Terrorism Monday warned All for espionage and technology theft. Tomorrow the Advisory Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (AWTI) will issue urgent ‘knowledge security’ advice to Education Secretary Robert Dijgraf: More awareness needed.
The advisory board spoke with scientists, administrators, companies and government. “People are not sufficiently aware of the increasing complexity and risks associated with international cooperation, and often do not know how to deal with these risks,” says the Council.
For years, cooperation with Dutch universities, universities of applied sciences and other research institutes from abroad has been stimulated and encouraged by the government. For example, education delegations regularly left for China. International collaboration is also important to the quality of scientific research.
But this collaboration also attracts parties with other plans with the knowledge they gather here. According to the intelligence services, which warn not only about China but also about Russia, “Dutch companies, educational institutions and knowledge institutes have high-quality and unique knowledge know how. This makes the Netherlands an attractive target for espionage activities.”
Incidents from the past confirm that picture: as well Russian spies Access to Dutch high-tech companies and the Knowledge Foundation. it was there measures against Iranian students and researchers in the Netherlands to prevent them from leaking sensitive information to Iran. and became chair of Groningen Partially funded by China. The contract even stipulated that the university professor was not allowed to tarnish China’s image.
NOS and Nieuwsuur recently investigated Russian spies and discovered their identities and activities:
“Until recently, you could raise tons of research funding from research funders if you wanted to collaborate with China,” says Ebo Bruins, AWTI President. “And there were no strings attached. We were naive and now we’ve learned quickly that not all cooperation is good.”
Since this year, universities and colleges with questions about the security of knowledge can turn to a government office. “We’ve used this now several dozen times,” says Peter Wegeland, program director for knowledge security at TU Delft. “It mainly has to do with borderline cases where we from the university can’t easily make the final judgment because it’s a gray area, for example.”
Knowledge institutions are also used Chinese defense universities From the Australian Research Center ASPI. “There you can see how much a Chinese university is entwined with the Communist Party or doing research for the People’s Liberation Army,” explains Bart van den Berg, director of knowledge security on the project, from Utrecht University.
Stopping cooperation with China completely is not an option. “It wouldn’t be right to build a wall against China or any other country,” said AWTI’s Bruins. “Science and innovation thrive through open collaboration. The idea is to collaborate where possible, not collaborate where the stakes are too high.”
Weijland of TU Delft also stresses that knowledge institutions need other countries for scientific research. “So I would caution that we don’t just close all the shutters.”