The RCMP has charged a former member of the Canada Space Agency (CSA) for allegedly working on behalf of a Chinese aerospace company.
Former CSA engineer Wanping Zheng, 61, was charged with breach of trust by a public officer on Tuesday after an RCMP investigation, the CSA said in a statement Wednesday. He is a resident of Brossard, Que., a suburb of Montreal.
“According to the facts, Mr. Zheng allegedly used his status as a CSA engineer to negotiate agreements for the installation of satellite station facilities in Iceland,” the RCMP said in a statement.
“He allegedly acted on behalf of a Chinese aerospace company.
“The Canadian Space Agency is part of Canada’s critical infrastructure and constitutes a strategic interest to be protected,” the RCMP said.
The RCMP said Zheng was arrested on Tuesday and released on a promise to appear in court at Longueuil, Que., on Dec. 15.
The alleged crime took place between July 1, 2018, and May 30, 2019, at the CSA headquarters in Brossard and St-Hubert, as well as in Toronto, Ottawa and elsewhere in Ontario and Quebec, according to a charge sheet filed at the courthouse.
CSA said Zheng’s employment was ceased in 2019 after concerns around Zheng’s private activities outside of his employment.
The agency began an internal inquiry, restricted access to information, then later forwarded its concerns to the RCMP.
Canada has faced a rocky relationship with China and has had to contend with the super power’s influence on internal affairs.
The RCMP is currently investigating whether fired scientists Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng passed on intellectual property to China from the top-secret National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg.
Canada has also yet to decide whether to include Huawei technology in its 5G cellular network. Concerns have been raised that doing so could allow China to spy on the country.
China detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor for 1020 days seemingly in connection to Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. in 2018.