Transcript of China Related Comments by Former Director of CSIS Broadcast on CBC "As It Happens" on April 4, 2016
Carol Off: I’m going to ask you what I think what you are referring to as “the gotcha question” here. And that is that you said that China is a very aggressive recruiter in Canada. What did you mean?
Richard Fadden: I think a lot of countries have a very different view of how they use the power of the state in order to advance their interest. I think a number of these countries, including the one you just mentioned, take the view that if they can advance their interests sometimes more covertly than overtly that's not a bad thing. We tend not to do that, we as Canadians, other countries do. I think it's generally recognized in the public domain, let alone in the world I used to work in, that they're very good at this and they do it quite systematically.
Carol Off: How widespread you think that is, recruiting people on the inside?
Richard Fadden: It depends what you mean by recruiting people on the inside. I mean you can do this sort of thing through any number of ways starting from normal diplomatic discourse through the use of the media for encouraging people to develop friendly relations and you can also try and do it covertly. Do I think that it's a massive problem in Canada that requires legislation and people shouting from the rooftops? No I do not. What I do think we need to some degree is awareness of it, much like there is awareness of it in the United States. They've been more upfront about it than we have been.
Carol Off: Do you think it represents a risk to Canadian interests?
Richard Fadden: Sure, but a lot of things represent risks. The key is to acknowledge it and to try and minimize it. China's a great power. They are there. We have to deal with them. It's something that I think the West is finding difficult to do. But here again I think there is the need for the Government, Canadian society generally, to come to a balancing act. There are real advantages in having good relationships with China. But like all relationships it's not a bad thing to go in with one's eyes open.
Carol Off: To what degree do you think China has infiltrated the Canadian government and Canadian bureaucracy?
Richard Fadden: I don't think I can answer that question.
Carol Off: Is it a lot? A little bit?
Richard Fadden: I really would rather not because it requires me to draw on information that is classified.
Carol Off: So can I infer from that that you do think that they have penetrated?
Richard Fadden: “Penetrated” is a word that we used to use during the Cold War to talk about spies who infiltrated the very centres of government. I have never suggested that was the case.
Carol Off: What do you suggest?
Richard Fadden: I suggest that they try and obtain influence in a variety of ways, some entirely acceptable some less so.
Carol Off: Do you think that people are knowingly helping them with that or do you think that they find themselves compromised without their knowledge?
Richard Fadden: Yes.
Carol Off: To what? Both?
Richard Fadden: Both. There’s nothing wrong with helping another state. I mean we do it all the time. To my mind the problem is, and I'm not just talking about one state in particular, the problem is when you are helping or you are doing something and you're not conscious of the extent to which you’re advancing the interest of the other state.
Carol Off: How often you think that they are consciously doing it?Richard Fadden: I honestly, in this case it is not a question of not wanting to answer, I don't know the answer the question.