Support for Chinese Regime Required to Access Canadian-Funded Scholar Exchange Program in Canada

Chinese candidates applying for a Canadian taxpayer-funded exchange program need to declare allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and the Party’s “socialist system,” The Epoch Times has learned.The link to the Chinese governmental agency’s website specifying these requirements for the current academic year is prominently featured on the website of the Canadian agency in charge of promoting the program, as of this writing. The Canadian government issued a notice about this year’s program earlier this month.On the Chinese side, the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program is managed by the Chinese Scholarship Council, an agency under China’s Ministry of Education that oversees international academic exchanges. On the Canadian side, the program is administered by the Canadian Embassy in Beijing and promoted by EduCanada, a federal organization under Global Affairs Canada that collaborates with the provinces to help international students looking to study in Canada.Under the program, which usually lasts four to 12 months, candidates are placed as visiting scholars in programs at Canadian universities without formal enrolment. From the Canadian side, candidates receive $2,200 per month in living expenses and are provided health-care coverage. The Chinese side foots the bill for the flight and travel expenses as well as visa application fees.In its “Selection Notice“ for the 2024-2025 academic year of the program, the Chinese Scholarship Council outlines several requirements for applicants. These include upholding academic standards and ethics, being of good physical and mental health, being less than 50 years old, intending to return to China to put acquired skills to use, and committing to support the CCP’s ideals.“[Candidates should] support the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, love the motherland, have good moral character, abide by laws and regulations, have a sense of responsibility to serve the country, serve the society, and serve the people, and have a correct world outlook, outlook on life, and values,” the website says in Chinese.Related StoriesThe Canadian government sent out the notice about this year’s program on April 9.The Epoch Times contacted Global Affairs Canada for comment but didn’t hear back by publication time.The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program was created in 1973 as part of an agreement between then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and then-Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai.The scholar exchange program for studying in Canada is open to academic staff, as well as non-academics holding “senior professional posts” such as judges, broadcasters, and economists.ConcernsHuman rights lawyer David Matas says the requirement for applicants to support the CCP could mean that those in the Canadian-funded program may engage in self-censorship, which goes against human rights laws and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.“I think the issue is whether it violates Canadian law, whether it violates a particular statute or not. And I would say that it does,” Mr. Matas said in an interview.As well, he said, requiring candidates to support the CCP leadership also implies supporting Beijing’s hostile activities abroad.“Supporting communist leadership means supporting what they’re doing, and supporting what they’re doing means complying with their requests,” he said. “If the Communist Party leadership asks [the successful candidates] to spy and they don’t, that is not supporting the Communist Party leadership.”China’s National Intelligence Law requires Chinese citizens and organizations, including private businesses, to provide support, assistance, and cooperation in the regime’s intelligence operations.Mr. Matas pointed to another Chinese educational program involving Canadian institutions that raised human rights concerns after China’s requirements for candidate selection became public.“This issue actually arose with the Confucius Institute because the people who work for them are hired in Beijing and they have a similar requirement,” Mr. Matas said. “Specifically, [the applicant to teach at Confucius Institute] couldn’t be a Falun Gong practitioner. They actually had that on the website.”Sonia Zhao, a Falun Gong adherent who taught at McMaster University’s Confucius Institute, filed a case with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in September 2012 because she had to agree to not practise Falun Gong as part of Beijing’s requirement. McMaster eventually ended its Confucius Institute program as Beijing wouldn’t remove the requirement.“The problem is discriminatory because the Communist Party discriminates against anybody they [target]—Falun Gong practitioners, Hong Kong democracy activists, or Uyghurs,” Mr. Matas said. “They maintain a list of perceived enemies, and this violates Canadian human rights protections.”Research PartnershipDavid Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, along with se

Support for Chinese Regime Required to Access Canadian-Funded Scholar Exchange Program in Canada

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Chinese candidates applying for a Canadian taxpayer-funded exchange program need to declare allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and the Party’s “socialist system,” The Epoch Times has learned.

The link to the Chinese governmental agency’s website specifying these requirements for the current academic year is prominently featured on the website of the Canadian agency in charge of promoting the program, as of this writing. The Canadian government issued a notice about this year’s program earlier this month.
On the Chinese side, the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program is managed by the Chinese Scholarship Council, an agency under China’s Ministry of Education that oversees international academic exchanges. On the Canadian side, the program is administered by the Canadian Embassy in Beijing and promoted by EduCanada, a federal organization under Global Affairs Canada that collaborates with the provinces to help international students looking to study in Canada.
Under the program, which usually lasts four to 12 months, candidates are placed as visiting scholars in programs at Canadian universities without formal enrolment. From the Canadian side, candidates receive $2,200 per month in living expenses and are provided health-care coverage. The Chinese side foots the bill for the flight and travel expenses as well as visa application fees.
In its “Selection Notice“ for the 2024-2025 academic year of the program, the Chinese Scholarship Council outlines several requirements for applicants. These include upholding academic standards and ethics, being of good physical and mental health, being less than 50 years old, intending to return to China to put acquired skills to use, and committing to support the CCP’s ideals.

“[Candidates should] support the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, love the motherland, have good moral character, abide by laws and regulations, have a sense of responsibility to serve the country, serve the society, and serve the people, and have a correct world outlook, outlook on life, and values,” the website says in Chinese.

The Canadian government sent out the notice about this year’s program on April 9.

The Epoch Times contacted Global Affairs Canada for comment but didn’t hear back by publication time.

The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program was created in 1973 as part of an agreement between then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and then-Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai.

The scholar exchange program for studying in Canada is open to academic staff, as well as non-academics holding “senior professional posts” such as judges, broadcasters, and economists.

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Concerns

Human rights lawyer David Matas says the requirement for applicants to support the CCP could mean that those in the Canadian-funded program may engage in self-censorship, which goes against human rights laws and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“I think the issue is whether it violates Canadian law, whether it violates a particular statute or not. And I would say that it does,” Mr. Matas said in an interview.

As well, he said, requiring candidates to support the CCP leadership also implies supporting Beijing’s hostile activities abroad.

“Supporting communist leadership means supporting what they’re doing, and supporting what they’re doing means complying with their requests,” he said. “If the Communist Party leadership asks [the successful candidates] to spy and they don’t, that is not supporting the Communist Party leadership.”

China’s National Intelligence Law requires Chinese citizens and organizations, including private businesses, to provide support, assistance, and cooperation in the regime’s intelligence operations.

Mr. Matas pointed to another Chinese educational program involving Canadian institutions that raised human rights concerns after China’s requirements for candidate selection became public.

“This issue actually arose with the Confucius Institute because the people who work for them are hired in Beijing and they have a similar requirement,” Mr. Matas said. “Specifically, [the applicant to teach at Confucius Institute] couldn’t be a Falun Gong practitioner. They actually had that on the website.”

Sonia Zhao, a Falun Gong adherent who taught at McMaster University’s Confucius Institute, filed a case with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in September 2012 because she had to agree to not practise Falun Gong as part of Beijing’s requirement. McMaster eventually ended its Confucius Institute program as Beijing wouldn’t remove the requirement.
“The problem is discriminatory because the Communist Party discriminates against anybody they [target]—Falun Gong practitioners, Hong Kong democracy activists, or Uyghurs,” Mr. Matas said. “They maintain a list of perceived enemies, and this violates Canadian human rights protections.”
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Research Partnership

David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, along with senior intelligence officials from allied countries, issued a warning about growing security concerns involving China targeting Western educational and research institutes during a rare public appearance in October 2023. Specifically, the regime’s threats to Western innovation, intellectual property, and academic institutions were highlighted by the intelligence officials.
Responding to concerns over Beijing’s threat to Canadian academia, Ottawa in early 2024 released a “Named Research Organizations” list outlining Chinese organizations presenting the highest risk to Canada’s national security. The list includes 85 Chinese institutions, including those recognized for their close ties to the Chinese military. Ottawa has said it won’t provide federal funding for technical projects in sensitive areas with these organizations.
The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program focuses on Canadian studies in the social sciences and humanities, covering fields such as economics, law, international relations, history, geography, and others.

Mr. Matas said that even though these fields are not technical, there are still potential security risks.

“It depends on the information [the exchange scholars] have access to and the research that is itself supposed to be secure. I think that would be a problem,” he said.

Mr. Matas noted that it’s not correct to say everyone coming from China is engaged in malign activities, but those who need to meet certain requirements in order to qualify could potentially act as spies and report to “the Communist Party on everything they see around them.”

As a member of a human rights coalition participating in the ongoing public inquiry into foreign interference, Mr. Matas cited cases of individuals affiliated with the Confucius Institute in Canada who engage in surveilling the Chinese diaspora, pro-democracy activists, and persecuted groups like Falun Gong.

He noted that Western democracies’ belief that China would democratize following engagement with other democracies has proven flawed; instead, he said, the communist regime has become more aggressive. This is especially so under Xi Jinping, who has become increasingly hostile to the West, he said.

“With Xi Jinping, I think hopes have evaporated and I think the situation now in terms of Communist Party repression is as bad as it’s ever been,” Mr. Matas said.

“It’s really crushed the hopes of those who thought that the contact with China, development with China ... would lead to freedom in China.”

Omid Ghoreishi contributed to this report.

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