In recent years, over 90 military scientists from China have gathered knowledge at Dutch universities and knowledge institutions. They conducted research into militarily sensitive technologies, such as hypersonic aircraft and reinforced concrete. This is the conclusion of research done by Follow the Money and RTL Nieuws, as part of the China Science Investigation. The Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service calls the situation 'worrying'.
The China Files
China is becoming more prominent on the world stage. Soon, it will surpass the United States as the largest economy. China is busy getting its hands on knowledge and high technology in all sorts of ways, aiming to be an independent technological superpower by 2025. What does this mean for Europe and for the Netherlands, which is already closely linked to China?
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China wants to build the most powerful army in the world. They appear to be succeeding – thanks to European scientists, who are sharing militarily sensitive knowledge with the Chinese army on a large scale. This is the conclusion of research done by Follow the Money and ten other media outlets from seven different countries. Nearly three hundred of such sensitive studies were conducted in the Netherlands. ‘Vital knowledge has already leaked. We're fighting a rearguard action.’
According to research conducted by Follow the Money and RTL Nieuws, three leading Dutch laboratories, including the Erasmus Medical Centre, have collaborated with Chinese scientists in recent years to develop sensitive DNA techniques. Experts believe that this knowledge can be used to control minorities and political opponents. Today, Dutch parliamentarians reacted with shock: ‘If the universities themselves do not see the problem, the Minister should perhaps take action.’
Phones from the Chinese brand Xiaomi offer excellent specifications at a reasonable price. The downside: the devices send private data on a large scale to servers in China, which the Chinese government can read. Lithuania calls for the devices to be scrapped; the Netherlands keeps silent.
For years now, researchers of the Chinese police have been using products of Qiagen, a biotech company based in the Netherlands, in controversial studies involving the DNA of Uyghurs and Tibetans. This became apparent from an investigation by Follow the Money. Qiagen denies any knowledge of misuse, but did apply for a certificate so that the Chinese police could use their products.
An investigation by Follow the Money has revealed that two scientific journals have retracted publications by a Chinese researcher at the Erasmus Medical Centre. He could not sufficiently demonstrate that Uyghurs, a persecuted minority in China, had consented to their DNA being collected. ‘Retraction of a scientific article on ethical grounds is extremely rare.’
China’s burgeoning economy has long made it popular with foreign investors, including pension funds. At the end of 2020 two funds, ABP and Pensioenfonds Zorg & Welzijn, had over €31 billion invested in China. But reports of serious human rights abuses in Xinjiang province have posed a dilemma: should the funds focus on their profits, or their reputations? FTM investigated what the Netherlands’ 24 biggest funds are doing in China.
Although they knew they were propaganda vessels for the Chinese Communist Party, three Dutch knowledge institutions deliberately acquired a Confucius Institute. A reconstruction made by FTM shows how these institutions risk their academic freedom, hoping to establish a better trade relationship with China.
The President of the European Parliament has ordered an investigation into whether members of an informal Chinese ‘friendship group’ violated integrity rules. But was that group, despite all its efforts, of any use to China at all?
China is on a roll: it’s only a matter of time before it overtakes the United States and becomes the world’s biggest economy. Chinese companies are spreading their wings and are increasingly active in Europe. The country is going all out to get its hands on valuable technology, and plans to be an independent technological superpower by 2025.