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OTTAWA, July 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s foreign affairs minister says he is “looking into” the Trudeau government’s deal with a state-owned Chinese company to supply security equipment to Canadian embassies.
The National Post reported Friday that the Liberals offered Nuctech Company an estimated $6.8 million contract to provide X-ray security screening machines to 170 Canadian embassies, consulates and high commissions around the world.
Nuctech is owned by the China’s communist government and was founded by the son of former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Hu Jintao, it reported.
Shortly after this story was published, the Post reported that Global Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said his office was reviewing the deal, a position the minister reiterated Monday in a statement to LifeSiteNews.
“We are currently looking into the offer with Nuctech Company to provide some security screening equipment in our missions abroad,” Champagne said.
“The standing offer is not a contract, and Global Affairs has not purchased any equipment from Nuctech at this time,” he added.
Champagne has also “directed (Global Affairs Canada) officials to review our purchasing practices when it comes to security equipment and to continue reviewing the security of our missions around the world,” he stated.
According to the original tender notice, “the tender was for a National Master Standing Offer, which sets pre-arranged prices and effectively makes the company the preferred vendor for the equipment,” the Post reported.
The department of Public Services and Procurement Canada issued tenders last December for walk-through metal detectors, X-ray machines, and bullet resistant windows and doors as part of a Global Affairs upgrade of embassy security, according to the Post’s initial report.
A California-based company won the contract for the metal detectors and Nuctech won the bid to supply X-ray machines. The contract “includes delivery, installation, operator training and software.”
Nuctech’s winning bid was posted on the government’s Buy and Sell website on July 16, the Post reported.
According to this website, Nuctech has received number of Liberal government contracts over the years, including a $2 million contract in 2017 for “hazard-detecting instruments and apparatus” for the Canadian Border Services Agency, and a $1,000,366 contract from 2018 to 2027 to supply this equipment to the same agency.
A security industry source told the Post that the X-ray machines are stand-alone systems and would not be connected to embassy networks, but that he was concerned there would now be “significant pieces of Chinese technology sitting in every embassy.”
That concern was echoed by European China experts and politicians who view Nuctech as the “Huawei of airport security” and fear that its dominance in this sector will give Beijing “insights into airports all over Europe,” Politico reported in February.
“One worry is that the gear could be used as a transmitter of malicious software. Another concern is that Nuctech equipment could cause disruption at Europe’s airports and borders if it were to be misused by foreign state-backed hacking groups, or be used to disrupt supply chains in a trade dispute,” it stated.
News of the offer to Nuctech comes amid rising tensions between Ottawa and Beijing over the extradition case of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of China’s telecommunication giant Huawei who is under house arrest in British Columbia.
Canada arrested Meng in 2018 at the request of the United States Justice Department, which is accusing her of violating Iranian sanctions. The United States wants Canada to extradite Meng to face charges, and she and Beijing are denying the allegations and demanding her release.
In a move widely regarded as a retaliatory measure to exert pressure on Canada to do so, Beijing arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor shortly after Meng was taken into custody, and in June formally charged them with spying.
Trudeau stated in response that “we deplore what China did” but that Canada will not release Meng, nor will it give in to “hostage diplomacy.”
At the same time, Canada remains the last country of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance not to officially announce its refusal to work with Huawei. All of the four other members — the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia — have stopped Huawei from supplying 5G equipment.
Huawei was hoping to be a prominent player in a bid to be a major part of Canada’s 5G network, but recently both Bell and Telus said they will partner with Nokia and Ericsson instead.
The Five Eyes Alliance also reported in May that China deliberately lied about the coronavirus outbreak and allowed it to spread globally.
However, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) announced the same month that it was collaborating with Chinese firm CanSinoBIO to test and develop a Covid-19 vaccine in Canada.
LifeSiteNews reported that the vaccine, known as Ad5-nCoV, uses the HEK293 cell line made from fetal cells from a baby aborted decades ago.
Most recently, Chinese customs officials are reportedly holding back a shipment of the vaccine slated for human clinical trials at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Halifax’s Dalhousie University.
It is not confirmed that China’s authorities delaying the shipping of the vaccine is another means to pressure the Canadian government to release Meng.
“There is a level of admiration I actually have for China, because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say we need to go green, we need to start, you know, investing in solar,” he said.
“I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about, of having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted, that I find quite interesting.”
LifeSite’s Anthony Murdoch contributed to this report.