According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a researcher at Hydro-Quebec, whose work related to battery materials, has been charged with espionage for allegedly trying to steal trade secrets to benefit China.
The accused is a 35-year-old man, Yuesheng Wang, who worked for Hydro-Quebec’s Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, a research unit devoted to developing battery materials that has teamed up with industry players including the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
He is due to appear in court on Tuesday in Longueuil, Quebec and faces four charges including obtaining trade secrets, unauthorized computer use, fraud for obtaining trade secrets, and breach of trust by a public officer.
“While employed by Hydro-Quebec, Mr. Wang allegedly obtained trade secrets to benefit the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to the detriment of Canada’s economic interests,” the RCMP said in a statement.
According to the RCMP, Mr Wang committed the crimes at the electricity utility from February 2018 up until October 2022. An RCMP special national security unit began investigating the case back in August.
Yuesheng, who is from Candiac in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec started working at the research unit in 2016 but was fired this month according to the company.
“Damage was limited by our internal detection mechanisms,” said Hydro-Quebec spokeswoman Caroline Des Rosiers. However, she declined to state what information he had allegedly tried to steal.
“Wang allegedly used this position to conduct research for a Chinese University and other Chinese research centers. He reportedly published scientific articles and submitted patents in association with this foreign actor, rather than with Hydro-Quebec,” an RCMP spokesman said.
Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have been running high since the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges.
Earlier this month, Canada ordered three Chinese companies to divest their investments in Canadian critical minerals, citing national security.