Tuesday, 23 February 2021

COVID contracts and Conservative cronyism

Letter submitted to The Guardian newspaper: Your reporting of the unlawful way in which the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has placed medical support contracts during the pandemic (“‘Friend’ of Hancock in inquiry over Covid work,” 22 Feb; “Hancock acted unlawfully by not publishing Covid contracts within 30 days, high court rules,” 20 Feb.) is really revealing only the tip of a much bigger iceberg of contract cronyism, and the lack of political accountability over them being awarded. Last October it was revealed that DHSC had awarded the global firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) a £10m contract on test and trace (“Consultants' fees 'up to £6,250 a day' for work on Covid test system,” 15 Oct.2020; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/14/consultants-fees-up-to-6250-a-day-for-work-on-covid-test-system) Green MP Caroline Lucas immediately (on 16 October) submitted a parliamentary question to Matt Hancock on this, asking inter alia, for the contract to be published, and three months later finally received a written answer from DHSC. (Parliamentary rules state ministers must answer within five working days). Exasperated, on 11th November, nearly three weeks after asking her original question, Ms Lucas had asked Matt Hancock when he planned to answer the original question. Junior health minister, Edward Argar, replied on 30 November: “We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with .. timely information.” He closed by adding her question would “ be answered as soon as possible.(https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-11-11/114133). At Prime Minister's questions on Wednesday 25 November (Hansard at Column 818), Boris Johnson pledged “ the publication of all the details of all the contracts.” (https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-11-25/debates/FA145A50-F2C7-45C7-8CEF-51F0B5AF23D3/Engagements). A week later, Mr Argar appeared before the House of Commons Procedure Committee to explain why his department had been so late in answering correspondence from MPs and PQs (https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/126/procedure-committee/news/136919/committee-questions-minister-on-department-of-health-performance-in-answering-parliamentary-questions/), telling the committee there were some 1500 written PQs that were still late being answered by Health ministers. The average delay peaked at 14.8 days in October, it rose to 20 days in November, and by early December had dropped again 13.3 days (https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/1405/html/) But Ms Lucas had to wait another 42 further days, until 18 January, on top of the delay to that date to receive her own reply from a different health minister junior heath minister, Helen Whately, who said: “[BCG] are an approved supplier on the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework contract...Value for money and capability were part of the assessment criteria. The contract award date was 24 April 2020..:” adding “The pay rates of individual consultants engaged from each supplier is commercially sensitive information. ..All the Departmental COVID-19 contracts are published on the GOV.UK Contract Finder Service”(https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-10-16/104712) I visited the Government’s Contract Finder site, to find out the details of this particular contract but it is not included at all in the 32 BCG contracts listed since April last year. (https://bidstats.uk/tenders/?q=boston+consulting+group&scope=supplier UK). After such an inordinate delay, I find that astonishing!

Monday, 22 February 2021

Explosive finale: energising EU-UK nuclear relations post-Brexit

This article is published today on the Energy Transition Blog, by the Heinreich Boell Foundation, Brussels-office: Explosive finale: energising EU-UK nuclear relations post-Brexit by Dr David Lowry https://energytransition.org/2021/02/explosive-finale-energising-eu-uk-nuclear-relations-post-brexit/ 22 Feb 2021 When the UK finalized a trade and security agreement with the European Commission on 24 December last year, it left with a set of arrangements governing future energy cooperation. Here, Dr David Lowry looks at the background and reveals one extraordinary condition that could terminate the nuclear component of the deal. (CC BY 2.0, John Fielding) Background An expert briefing by the House of Commons library in the UK Parliament set the context. “On energy, although [EU] Member States remain ultimately responsible for security of energy supply to citizens, and for deciding their energy mix, the UK and EU energy sectors remain integrated through trade, legislation and interconnection of energy supply. Consequently, the future relationship between the UK and EU has the potential to affect the UK’s civil nuclear industry, including nuclear power and research, and the trade of electricity and gas through interconnectors. Additional areas that may be affected include the island of Ireland’s energy market, energy efficiency regulations, and general energy infrastructure through wider changes to trade and the movement of people.” The British negotiating team set out its intended priorities in a document recently made public, in summary. “The objectives of this Agreement are to recognise the [EU & UK] Parties’ respective commitments to combating climate change, to establish the bases on which the Parties shall trade natural gas, electricity and electricity interconnector capacity, to cooperate on trade in energy and to link their Emissions Trading Systems.” “The UK’s future relationship with Euratom could have implications for the UK’s current nuclear operations, including fuel supply, waste management, cooperation with other nuclear states, and research..” One of the complexities was the future arrangements for nuclear safeguards, which was addressed by a bilateral deal between the UK and European Commission, agreed in August 2018. Inter alia, it stated: “ (…) This agreement is intended to replace an existing UK trilateral Voluntary Offer Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Euratom (the trilateral Voluntary Offer Agreement) (…). A key part of this programme has been to conclude a new bilateral agreement with the IAEA… signed on 7th June 2018 [which] provides the basis for the UK to continue to discharge its international non-proliferation and safeguards commitments…” “As a nuclear­ weapons state, the UK has voluntarily accepted the application of IAEA safeguards subject to exclusion for national security reasons only. (emphasis added) The Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018 provided the UK with the necessary primary legislation to ensure that the obligations in the voluntary offer agreement can be complied with. Alongside the 1200-page Brexit trade and security agreement the UK and EU agreed a self-standing 18-page accord on nuclear co-operation, which is strong on outlining the importance of nuclear safeguards, peaceful uses of nuclear materials and regulatory oversight. There are several key sections dealing with nuclear materials, all of which are given a nuclear non-proliferation context by the preamble, includes the noting that the United Kingdom and all Member States of the Community participate in the Nuclear Suppliers Group; The UK and EU agreed that “the objective of this Agreement is to provide a framework for cooperation between the Parties in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy on the basis of mutual benefit and reciprocity…the items subject to this Agreement shall only be used for peaceful purposes and shall not be used for any nuclear weapon or nuclear explosive device, nor for research on or development of any nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device or for any military purpose.” The scope of nuclear cooperation] may take, but is not limited to, the following forms: the transfer of nuclear material…and exchange of information in areas of mutual interest, such as nuclear safeguards… Article 6 cover Nuclear Safeguards, and explains that nuclear material subject to the Agreement shall be subject to inter alia to “the [UK] domestic safeguards system as implemented by the national competent authority”; and to the IAEA safeguards pursuant to the United Kingdom‐IAEA Safeguards Agreement (INFCIRC/263). Over 600 UK withdrawals of nuclear explosives from safeguards The key thing to understand is what is permitted action under INFCIRC/263. Importantly, this Tripartite Agreement states at Article 14, headlined: EXCLUSIONS ON GROUNDS OF NATIONAL SECURITY “If the United Kingdom intends to make any withdrawals of nuclear material from the scope of this Agreement for national security reasons in accordance with Article l(c), it shall give the Community and the Agency advance notice of such withdrawal. If any nuclear material becomes available for inclusion within the scope of this Agreement because its exclusion for national security reasons is no longer required, the United Kingdom shall inform the Community and the Agency thereof in accordance with Article 62(c).” Nor was this provision a sleeping article, not applied by the UK, as the UK Government has stated in official disclosures that it has requested nuclear materials be removed from safeguards on more than 600 occasions since 14 August 1978, when the UK “voluntary” safeguards agreement entered into force. Thus the new nuclear agreement between the UK and EU, allows the militarization of the entire 140,000 kilogramme stockpile of plutonium in store at Sellafield. For context, a nuclear warhead may be made with 5 kilogrammes. Article 15 Administrative arrangements The Parties, through their respective competent authorities, shall establish administrative arrangements to implement this Agreement effectively. Such arrangements shall include the procedures necessary for the competent authorities to implement and administer this Agreement. Administrative arrangements established pursuant to this Article may be amended as mutually determined in writing by the competent authorities. Administrative arrangements may provide for the exchange of inventory lists in respect of the items subject to this Agreement. Administrative arrangements may set out the mechanisms for consultations between the competent authorities. The accounting of nuclear material and non‐nuclear material subject to this Agreement shall be based on fungibility (i.e. interchangeability) and the principles of proportionality and equivalence of nuclear material … as set out in the administrative arrangements established pursuant to this Article. Then comes the most extraordinary Article in the entire agreement! Article 22: Cessation of cooperation in case of serious breach. It states: In the event that: (a) either Party or any Member State of the Community is in serious breach of any of the material obligations under Articles 1 [Objective], 5 [Items subject to this Agreement], 6 [Safeguards], 7 [Physical protection], 9 [Transfers, retransfers and facilitation of trade], 10 [Enrichment], 11 [Reprocessing] or 15 [Administrative arrangements], or any other obligations under this Agreement as may be mutually determined by the Parties in writing after consultations in the Joint Committee; or (b) in particular, a non‐nuclear weapon Member State of the Community detonates a nuclear explosive device, or a nuclear weapon Member State of the Community or the United Kingdom detonates a nuclear explosive device using any item subject to this Agreement, the other Party may, on giving written notification to that effect, suspend or terminate in whole or in part the cooperation under this Agreement. (emphasis added) In other words, the whole treaty can literally be blown up by a nuclear explosion! The UK thus literally departed the EU with an atomic bang! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Guidance Published 24 December 2020 Nuclear Cooperation Agreements: implementation guidelines for operators from 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nuclear-cooperation-agreements-implementation-guidelines-for-operators Technical guidance for nuclear operators on reporting requirements related to Nuclear Cooperation Agreements from 1 January 2021. Brexit transition: new rules for 2021 The UK has left the EU. This page tells you the new rules from 1 January 2021. Documents Nuclear cooperation agreements between the United Kingdom and international partners: implementation guidelines for nuclear operators PDF, 348KB, 21 pages UK-Euratom nuclear cooperation agreement – notice The Nuclear Safeguards (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/196/contents/made

Friday, 19 February 2021

A Rush to Judgment?

Letter sent to The Guardian newspaper: My first encounter with legendary extremist conservative radio show host, Rush Limbaugh (“Rightwing US talk radio host Rush Limbaugh dies, aged 70,” Guardian, 18 February 2021; https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/17/rush-limbaugh-conservative-talk-radio-host-dies-70) came while driving during a holiday in Massachusetts in 2003. His syndicated radio show seemed to be on every point on the On one of the radio affiliates that carried his show, the station management decided to balance out his right wing bile by following Limbaugh’s show with a liberal talk-show host. One day a story had broken which was manna from heaven: Limbaugh announced on his own radio show that he was addicted to pain medication and he was checking himself into a treatment centre immediately. Police sources revealed that Limbaugh's name had come up during an investigation into a black market drug ring in Palm Beach County, Florida, that law enforcement authorities were looking into the illegal purchase of the prescription drugs OxyContin and hydrocodone. (https://edition.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/10/10/rush.limbaugh/) The liberal host, with glee, exposed Limbaugh’s obvious hypocrisy, by playing on a loop throughout his three-hour show this statement made by Limbaugh eight years earlier, on October 5, 1995, calling for illegal drug uses to be jailed. “There’s nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.” (https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/case-study/limbaugh-drug-addiction) Limbaugh also admitted he had tried to break his dependence in the past and had checked himself into medical facilities twice before. Three years later he was arrested again on prescription drug charges (New York Times, 28 April 2006; www.nytimes.com/2006/04/28/us/rush-limbaugh-arrested-on-prescription-drug-charges.html) A fine role model indeed for conservative ethics! Talk Radio Legend Rush Limbaugh Dies at 70 41,931 Mario Tama/Getty Images JOSHUA CAPLAN Breitbart, 17 Feb 2021 2:17 Conservative radio legend Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday morning at the age of 70 following a battle with advanced lung cancer, his wife Kathryn Limbaugh announced at the beginning of his Wednesday radio program. “It is with profound sadness I must share with you directly that our beloved Rush, my wonderful husband, passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer,” Kathryn announced. “Rush will forever be the greatest of all time, she added. Limbaugh, host of The Rush Limbaugh Show for 32 years, had been battling Stage 4 lung cancer since January 2020. Just days after announcing his diagnosis, Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump during the State of the Union on February 4, 2020 “Rush Limbaugh: Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,” Trump told the radio host during the address. Limbaugh periodically updated his audience on his health condition, telling listeners during his final radio broadcast of 2020 that he outlived his prognosis and thanked them for their outpour of support. “I wasn’t expected to be alive today,” Limbaugh said. “I wasn’t expected to make it to October, and then to November, and then to December. And yet, here I am, and today, got some problems, but I’m feeling pretty good today.” Praise for Limbaugh from conservative lawmakers and media figures poured in moments after Limbaugh’s passing. Rush Limbaugh revolutionized American radio. His voice guided the conservative movement for millions every day. Rest In Peace, Rush. — Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 17, 2021 Rush Limbaugh was an American icon who brought conservatism into the mainstream—and our country is a better place because of his profound voice. He leaves behind an incredible legacy. Please join me in praying for his family. — Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) February 17, 2021 Rush Limbaugh was a giant. With his straightforward, simple articulation of conservatism, he inspired millions. He was one-of-a-kind and he will be missed. — Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) February 17, 2021 R.I.P Rush. A true American legend. — Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 17, 2021 Broadcast Legend Rush Limbaugh has died. His legions of fans will miss him, and his powerful and bright contribution to our national dialogue is a treasure that will endure for decades to come. Rush Limbaugh, a great American, dead at 70. God bless you Rush. — Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) February 17, 2021 Limbaugh was born on January 12, 1951, in Cape Giradeau, Missouri. As a high school student, he landed his first job in radio at local station KGMO. Limbaugh attended Southeast Missouri State University in 1971 and dropped out after one year to return to the radio business. Limbaugh was first syndicated in 1988. At its peak, The Rush Limbaugh Show reached over 15 million listeners. Limbaugh was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993 along with the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998. He is also five-time winner of the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award for Excellence in Syndicated and Network Broadcasting. Limbaugh admits addiction to pain medication Saturday, October 11, 2003 https://edition.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/10/10/rush.limbaugh/ (CNN) -- Rush Limbaugh announced on his radio program Friday that he is addicted to pain medication and that he is checking himself into a treatment center immediately. "You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life," the conservative commentator said in a statement on his nationally syndicated radio show. "I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication." Law enforcement sources said last week that Limbaugh's name had come up during an investigation into a black market drug ring in Palm Beach County, Florida. The sources said that authorities were looking into the illegal sale of the prescription drugs OxyContin and hydrocodone. Limbaugh, who has a residence in Palm Beach County, was named by sources as a possible buyer. He was not the focus of the investigation, according to the sources. The radio talk show host said he first became addicted to painkillers "some years ago," following spinal surgery. However, he added, "the surgery was unsuccessful and I continued to have severe pain in my lower back and also in my neck due to herniated discs. I am still experiencing that pain." He had tried to break his dependence in the past and has checked himself into medical facilities twice before, he said. Limbaugh said that he is "not making any excuses" and that he is "no role model." "I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes. They are the role models," he said. He would not provide details of his current problem, citing the ongoing investigation. "At the present time, the authorities are conducting an investigation, and I have been asked to limit my public comments until this investigation is complete." Sources said the investigation began nine months ago when Wilma Cline, a former housekeeper at Limbaugh's oceanfront Palm Beach mansion, approached authorities. "I will only say that the stories you have read and heard contain inaccuracies and distortions, which I will clear up when I am free to speak about them," he said. Limbaugh has not been charged with any crime. Earlier this month, Limbaugh resigned from his position as football commentator on ESPN after making remarks that critics considered racist. Limbaugh said he left the show "Sunday NFL Countdown" to protect the network from the uproar caused by his statement that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed. He did not apologize for the comments and does not consider them to be racist remarks, merely an observation of the media's reaction to McNabb's success. The revelation about Limbaugh's possible addiction to OxyContin appeared the same week he resigned from ESPN. In the statement read by Limbaugh Friday, he did not name the pain medication he said he's addicted to. Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist in Pasadena, California, told CNN that if Limbaugh is addicted to OxyContin, "We're really talking about opiate addiction. The withdrawal is miserable and painful and it takes a long time to recover." The disease is insidious, Pinksy said. "It's a progressive disease, and when it progresses, the house of cards falls." Still, he said, "I've seen miracle recoveries." Limbaugh is one of the most recognized talk show hosts in the nation and also one of the most controversial. In 2001, he signed a nine-year contract with Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates his show to nearly 600 stations, for a total salary package reported to exceed $200 million. It is estimated that nearly 20 million people listen to Limbaugh's show daily. Also in 2001, Limbaugh learned he had a hearing problem. He was diagnosed in May and told his listeners in October that he was almost entirely deaf as a result of an autoimmune inner-ear disease. He said he had lost 100 percent hearing in his left ear and 80 percent in his right ear. He successfully had a cochlear implant placed in his left ear to restore his hearing. He announced in January 2002 that he could hear his own radio show "for the first time in nearly four months via a medical marvel." Until then, he relied solely on a TelePrompTer and his staff's assistance to understand his callers. Story Tools ________________________________________ VIDEO Rush Limbaugh admits his addiction to painkillers • Limbaugh resigns over McNabb comments • Statement of Rush Limbaugh PRESCRIPTION ADDICTION •Approximately 4 million Americans said they were currently using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in a 1999 report. •Commonly prescribed pain medications that can become addictive include: codeine, oxycodone, and sleep disorder drugs. •Prescription drugs are the most common form of drug abuse among older people. •Fastest growing group of new prescription drug abusers are 12- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 25-year-olds. Source: National Household Survey on Drug Abuse Limbaugh on Drug Addiction https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/case-study/limbaugh-drug-addiction Debates on the distribution, sale, and use of illegal drugs have been prominent in United States politics for the past several decades. Political commentator and talk show host Rush Limbaugh has become well known for his outspoken opinions on a number of political and social issues, including drug abuse. During his talk show on October 5, 1995, Limbaugh stated: “There’s nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.” Limbaugh argued that drug abuse was a choice, not a disease, and that it should be combatted with strict legal consequences. In October 2003, news outlets reported that Limbaugh was under investigation for illegally obtaining prescription drugs. Limbaugh illegally purchased hundreds of prescription pills per month over a period of several years. He engaged in the practice of “doctor shopping” by visiting different doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs that would otherwise be illegal. When this was disclosed, Limbaugh checked into a treatment facility. He said, “Over the past several years I have tried to break my dependence on pain pills and, in fact, twice checked myself into medical facilities in an attempt to do so…. I have recently agreed with my physician about the next steps.” Rush Limbaugh Arrested on Prescription Drug Charges New York Times, April 28, 2006 https://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/28/us/rush-limbaugh-arrested-on-prescription-drug-charges.html WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., April 29 (AP) — Rush Limbaugh was arrested today on prescription drug charges, with his lawyer saying he has reached a deal with prosecutors that will eventually see the charges dismissed if he continues treatment for drug addiction. Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio’s Conservative Provocateur, Dies at 70 A longtime favorite of the right, he was a furious critic of Barack Obama and a full-throated cheerleader for Donald J. Trump • New York Times, Feb. 17, 2021, 12:35 p.m. ET https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/business/media/rush-limbaugh-dead.html Rush Limbaugh in 1994. For more than three decades he led attacks on liberals, Democrats, feminists, environmentalists and many others. Credit...Eddie Adam/Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin By Robert D. McFadden Rush Limbaugh, the relentlessly provocative voice of conservative America who dominated talk radio for more than three decades with shooting-gallery attacks on liberals, Democrats, feminists, environmentalists and other moving targets, died on Wednesday. He was 70. His wife, Kathryn, said the cause was lung cancer. Mr. Limbaugh had announced on his show last February that he advanced lung cancer. A day later, President Donald J. Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during the State of the Union address. Mr. Limbaugh soon resumed his broadcasts, and his adoration for Mr. Trump. As the Covid-19 pandemic swept the nation, he likened the coronavirus to the common cold. And in October, as Election Day neared and Mr. Trump recuperated from the virus himself, he joined Mr. Limbaugh on the air for a two-hour “virtual rally,” largely devoted to his grievances. “We love you,” Mr. Limbaugh assured the president on behalf of his listeners. But 10 days later, Mr. Limbaugh told his audience that his cancer had grown worse and, despite treatments, was “going in the wrong direction.” A darling of the right since launching his nationally syndicated program during the presidency of his first hero, Ronald Reagan, Mr. Limbaugh was heard regularly by as many as 15 million Americans. That following, and his drumbeat criticisms of President Barack Obama for eight years, when the Republicans were often seen as rudderless, appeared to elevate him, at least for a time, to de facto leadership among conservative Republicans. Such talk became obsolete in 2016 with the meteoric rise of Donald J. Trump, who, after several flirtations with presidential races that were never taken very seriously, suddenly burst like a supernova on the national political landscape. Mr. Trump became president and Mr. Limbaugh, off the hook, became an ardent supporter. “This is great,” Mr. Limbaugh, sounding positively giddy, said of his new champion in the White House. “Can we agree that Donald Trump is probably enjoying this more than anybody wants to admit or that anybody knows?” Like dreams coming true, Mr. Limbaugh hailed the president’s efforts to curtail Muslim immigration, cut taxes, promote American jobs, repeal Obamacare, raise military spending and dismantle environmental protections. As for opposition to the Trump agenda and allegations of Russian interference in the American elections in 2016, Mr. Limbaugh had a ready explanation. “This attack is coming from the shadows of the deep state, where former Obama employees remain in the intelligence community,” he said. “They are lying about things, hoping to make it easier for them and the Obama shadow government to eventually get rid of Trump and everybody in his administration.” After House Democrats impeached the president for the first time, Mr. Limbaugh attacked with relish: “Why is Trump really being impeached?” he said. “He’s being impeached because he’s too successful,” adding: “Donald Trump is being impeached because he’s standing up for the Second Amendment. He’s being impeached because he’s lowering taxes. He’s being impeached because he’s resurrecting the economy.” Blisteringly sarcastic, often hilarious, always pugnacious, Mr. Limbaugh was a partisan force of nature, reviled by critics and admired by millions, a master of three-hour monologues that featured wicked impersonations, slashing mockery, musical parodies and a rogue’s gallery of fools, knaves, liars and bleeding hearts. In the Limbaugh lexicon, advocates for the homeless were “compassion fascists,” women who favored abortion were “feminazis,” environmentalists were “tree-hugging wackos.” He delivered “AIDS updates” with a Dionne Warwick song, “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” ridiculed Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease symptoms, and called global warming a hoax. He was not above baldfaced lies. During the debate over Mr. Obama’s 2009 health care bill, he fed the rumor mills over its provisions to have Medicare and insurers pay for optional consultations with doctors on palliative and hospice care, saying they empowered “death panels” that would “euthanize” elderly Americans. Unlike Howard Stern, Don Imus and other big names in shock radio, Mr. Limbaugh had no on-the-air sidekicks, though he had conversations with the unheard voice of someone he called “Bo Snerdly.” Nor did he have writers, scripts or outlines, just notes and clippings from newspapers he perused daily. Alone with his multitudes in his studio, he joked, ranted, twitted and burst into song, mimicry or boo-hoos as “The Rush Limbaugh Show” beamed out over 650 stations of the Premier Radio Networks, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications). In his alternate-universe-on-the-air, he was “El Rushbo” and “America’s Anchorman,” in the “Southern Command” bunker of an “Excellence in Broadcasting” network. To faithful “Dittoheads,” his defiantly self-mocking followers, he was an indomitable patriot, an icon of wit and wisdom — Mark Twain, Father Coughlin and the Founding Fathers rolled into one. His political clout, they said, lay in the reactions he provoked, avalanches of calls, emails and website rage, the headlines and occasional praise or wrath from the White House and Capitol Hill. To detractors he was a sanctimonious charlatan, the most dangerous man in America, a label he co-opted. And some critics insisted he had no real political power, only an intimidating, self-aggrandizing presence that swayed an aging, ultra-right fringe whose numbers, while impressive, were not considered great enough to affect the outcome of national elections. In any case, he was a commercial phenomenon, taking in $85 million a year. Married four times and divorced three times with no children, he lived on an oceanfront estate in a 24,000-square-foot mansion. It featured Oriental carpets, chandeliers and a two-story mahogany-paneled library with leather-bound collections. He had a half-dozen cars, one costing $450,000, and a $54 million Gulfstream G550 jet. Dropping $5,000 tips in restaurants, affecting the grandiloquence of a proud college dropout, he was himself easily caricatured: overweight all his life, sometimes topping 300 pounds, a cigar-smoker with an impish grin and sly eyes, the stringy hair slicked back from a mastodon forehead. He moved his bulk with surprising grace when showing how an environmentalist skips daintily in a woodland. But his voice was his brass ring — a jaunty, rapid staccato, breaking into squeaky dolphin-talk or falsetto sobbing to expose the do-gooders, dazzling America with his inventive, bruising vocabulary. Robert D. McFadden is a senior writer on the Obituaries desk and the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. He joined The Times in May 1961 and is also the co-author of two books. • •

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Green New Deal and nuclear politics

On Monday, the London-based Conservative think tank Centre for Policy Studies published new 27-page long pamphlet- titled the ‘Northern Big Bang’ - jointly with the Northern Research Group of MPs. (“PM must repay the North’s faith by unleashing a new ‘Northern Big Bang’, built around private investment,” 15 February 2021 https://www.cps.org.uk/media/press-releases/q/date/2021/02/15/pm-must-repay-the-north-s-faith-by-unleashing-a-new-nor/) The publicity material sets out the report’s aims and conclusions thus: • The North of England was once the powerhouse of the British economy, but today it has some of the least productive areas in Europe. • Ministers need to match the radical spirit of those in the North who voted Brexit in 2016 and Tory in 2019, and repay their faith, by making it home to a modern ‘Northern Big Bang’. • This means making the North irresistibly attractive to private investment – both global and domestic – through new investment incentives, planning reforms and other pro-growth measures. • These measures could unleash tens of billions of pounds worth of private sector investment to create high-quality jobs in high-productivity industries, for example in green technology, making the North the natural home for the Green Industrial Revolution. Billions of pounds of private sector investment could be unlocked in the North of England and create an economic Big Bang for the region, argues a new report from the Centre for Policy Studies and Northern Research Group of MPs. In recent decades, the report argues, London and the South East have monopolised investment, talent and attention. At present the Northern economy, measured by Gross Value Added per capita, is three quarters the size of England's average. The primary authors, Jake Berry MP, Chair of the Northern Research Group of MPs, and Nick King, CPS Research Fellow and former Government advisor, call on the Prime Minister to mirror the radicalism of Thatcher’s Big Bang in the 80s, and reward the voters who lent him their vote and contributed to the Conservative majority in 2019. ‘A Northern Big Bang’sets out a series of recommendations on how to “stimulate private sector investment and create a globally recognised, economic powerhouse in the North of England.” The aim would be to replicate the impact of the 1980s Big Bang, which unlocked billions of pounds of investment in London and the South East, but with a set of measures which reflect the North’s existing strengths and future potential. The report calls for a new Initial Investment Incentive – a cash payment to attract new investments and global capital to the region. This could be focused explicitly on green growth and meeting Net Zero, for example by incentivising investment into new gigafactories which would help spur a Green Industrial Revolution. Other recommendations include leveraging UK Infrastructure Bank investments to unlock private sector investment where possible, creating a new Northern Infrastructure Bond aimed at attracting global investors, and introducing full expensing for businesses nationwide, or at least allowing all capital expenditure by Northern businesses to be written-off for two years. The paper also calls for automatic approval for planning applications which create more than 100 permanent new jobs in the region when they have not been determined within two months, and an optional, alternative, fast-track planning process for investors planning to plough £20 million into the local economy, or whose investment will unlock over 250 jobs. To ensure local decision-making remains at the heart of this regeneration project, Berry and King are advocating for the creation of a new Growth Board for the North, to help steer investment, and a Northern Recovery Bond, to encourage local investment in local economic growth. The report recognises that such measures could also be applied nationwide, or in other regions that have fallen behind, but argues that the North is especially well positioned to benefit from them. Berry and King argue that the Government should aim to unleash a torrent of investment into the Northern economy, to deliver the productivity gains, economic growth and higher wages that are so desperately needed. Jake Berry MP, Chairman of the Northern Research Group, said: “At the last election millions of Northern voters broke with tradition by voting for the Conservative Party, in many cases for the first time. The Prime Minister needs to recognise that they did so not only to deliver Brexit, but to voice the systemic disadvantages felt in many communities that were tired of being neglected in favour of London and the South East. “The measures we have put forward will help the Prime Minister and this Government to ‘level up’ the economy and help make the North build back better as one of the most investable places in modern times." Nick King, Research Fellow at the CPS, said: "This Government has taken positive steps to deliver more public investment in infrastructure, but what the North needs is the scale of investment – and dynamism – that only the private sector can bring. "There is a huge amount of domestic and global capital ready to be invested. Our recommendations are designed to make the North of England one of the most investable places on the planet and to unleash this capital through a Northern Big Bang." About the Authors Jake Berry has been the Conservative MP for the Lancashire seat of Rossendale & Darwen since 2010, a role he combines with leading the Northern Research Group in Parliament. After serving in a number of junior Government roles, Jake was promoted to Northern Powerhouse Minister in 2017. A close ally and friend of Boris Johnson, he worked with him on his leadership campaign, during which Jake authored the ‘Renaissance of the Regions’ policy paper that became the Government’s levelling up policy agenda. The Prime Minister made Jake ‘Minister for The Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth’ in his first Cabinet. In his Ministerial roles he introduced radical changes to level up, including devolution deals with new metro mayors, as well as designing and delivering the new Towns Fund and Future High Streets Funds, bringing £3.6bn of direct investment into the regions. He also led on policies to encourage local growth and improve Northern infrastructure, with the aim of closing the North/South divide. [The Northern Research Group is a pressure group of dozens of Conservative MPs, including David Davis, Esther McVey, David Jones and David Mundell.] Nick King is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, a role he combines with running his own strategy consultancy, Henham Strategy. He hails from Lancaster. Nick was a Special Adviser in Government between 2012 and 2018, working for two Secretaries of State in three different Departments – the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government. In each of these, he worked on policies to encourage local growth and economic rebalancing, including devolution, infrastructure investment, the launch of the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine (with which he still works), the creation of metropolitan mayors, distribution of the Local Growth Fund and the establishment of various Enterprise Zones. (Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Lloyds Banking Group for their generous support of this report.) Here are some selected extracts from the report, highlighting its proposals for green industrial investment. Interestingly, despite there being several nuclear sites in the North of England, they do not propose investment in nuclear. “There is a particular opportunity to make the North the home of the Green Industrial Revolution which the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has called for. The innovation and technology which will allow us to achieve our Net Zero ambitions need to be inculcated somewhere, and the North of the England is the most obvious place, given its manufacturing strengths and industrial pedigree. These efforts, and the measures we put forward, will help the Prime Minister and this Government to level up the economy. These ideas are meant to help make the North one of the most investable places on the planet. Our recommendations include updating pension scheme rules to encourage more investment into Northern infrastructure; allowing the writing-off of all capital expenditure; creating a new Initial Investment Incentive to help spur a Green Industrial Revolution; making major planning decisions in weeks not years; & creating a new Northern Infrastructure Bond aimed at global investors.. The North of England has always been home to a spirit of restless radicalism. It was this radicalism that saw people vote for Brexit in their millions. And it was this radicalism which, a little over a year ago, saw a swathe of Northern constituencies vote Conservative for the first time in a generation. They felt let down by a political Establishment, and a Labour Party, which had taken them for granted for too long – and done too little to improve their lives. In November[2020], the Government announced the creation of a new Office for Investment, headed by Lord Grimstone, to attract foreign capital to Britain.13 Yet the Treasury – perhaps due to the distractions of the pandemic – has yet to fully outline how it intends to unlock private sector investment in the name of the levelling up agenda. The time has come to set out such an agenda. Today, with the signing of a free trade agreement with the European Union, our post-Brexit future is a more certain one. And the widespread rollout of various Covid-19 vaccines, means we are all looking forward to a brighter 2021. It is therefore time to make good on the promise to level up the economy – and to produce a Northern Big Bang focused on investment. The UK is in an enviable position when it comes to the assets held, and managed, by pension funds and the wider asset management industry. It is consistently one of the most favoured countries in the world when it comes to attracting Foreign Direct Investment. The challenge is to get this investment deployed, at scale, into the North and those other parts of the country which need levelling up. This is particularly important given the impact that spending on infrastructure can have, delivering a greater return per pound spent than almost any other form of fiscal stimulus or other public spending. We therefore recommend three steps to unlock a deluge of investment into Northern infrastructure: 1. A requirement that all projects funded by the new UK Infrastructure Bank operate on a ‘private sector unlock’ investment basis where possible 2. The creation of a new Northern Infrastructure Bond, issued by the Government and aimed at global investors 3. Updating rules around UK pension schemes, particularly Defined Contribution schemes, and developing approaches to make investment into Northern infrastructure more commonplace Some might question the need for a specific Northern Infrastructure Bond, given that the Government can borrow money and direct it towards such spending in any case. But its value comes from its specificity of purpose: in much the same way as the recently announced ‘green gilts’ have to be spent on environmental projects, this Bond would be focused entirely on the North and its infrastructure. In 2018 gross capital formation made up 17.4% of UK GDP compared to 24.3% in Japan, 23.9% in France, 21.8% in Germany and 21% in the United States (in expanding Asian economies such as India and South Korea it is above 30% and in China above 40%). In the OECD only Greece has a lower level of investment as a percentage of its economy.18 Of course, the tax treatment of capital expenditure can only explain part of this divergence. But it is unlikely to be a coincidence that the Tax Attractiveness Index, compiled by the Institute for Taxation and Accounting at LMU Munich, ranks the UK 98th out of 100 on its depreciation regime for fixed assets.19 The US-based Tax Foundation, similarly, ranks the UK 33rd out of 36 in terms of its capital allowances, with average cost recovery of 57.1% compared to an OECD average of 68.6%. Foreign Direct Investment has long been a success story for the UK, but the uncertainty following our vote to leave the European Union, compounded by the recent impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, has reduced capital inflows. The Initial Investment Incentive – or ‘the Triple I’ – should be available to any business making a material new investment in the North and would offer a Government-funded incentive of 10 per cent of the capital costs of new investments to reduce risk and increase potential profitability margins. The Triple I should have a ceiling – perhaps offering a maximum of £25 million per investment – and would need a floor investment level of, say, £20 million to ensure it is targeted at the most significant of investments. We would recommend that the Triple I was put in place for the next five years to incentivise investment spend as soon as possible. If this proposal were to be limited to certain parts of the economy, we would suggest it should be focused on delivering Net Zero and green growth – helping ensure the North of England is in the vanguard of taking forward the Green Industrial Revolution which this Government has made clear its determination to bring about. The recent publications of the Government’s 10 Point Plan,23 its Energy White Paper24 and the Treasury’s Net Zero Review interim report25 each signal the direction for Government policy in this regard, and act as staging posts in the journey to COP 26 specifically and to Net Zero more generally. But our efforts to lead the way on green issues and to build the green jobs and industries of the future need to be rooted in place as much as in policy. Just as the 1980s Big Bang helped the City become a global leader in finance, and billions of pounds in research spending helped create the globally leading life sciences cluster around Cambridge, a concerted effort can now put the North of England at the heart of our Green Industrial Revolution. Because many of the companies and industries which will help deliver Net Zero will be new, they can be incubated in a new place. These companies can benefit from networking benefits and agglomeration effects like those which exist in any other sector – but for that to happen they need to be rooted in a place. Those clusters of development and excellence should find a natural home in the North of England. It seems to us, capitalising on the research strengths of its universities, the manufacturing base which already exists there and various other pre-existing factors, it would be an obvious place to develop, for example, the gigafactories which are so important to the future of the UK automotive industry and the hydrogen technologies which can help unlock our future green growth. The North led the world during the Industrial Revolution, cradling the innovation, attracting the investment and implementing the approaches which would lead to widespread growth, jobs and opportunities. It can also lead the way on the transition to Net Zero – developing the innovation and technology needed whilst being propelled by the private sectr investment which is so clearly necessary. This can create a new economy, which will be able to take advantage of the North’s relative advantages – more affordable land, its industrial heritage, and the investment incentives of the sort outlined in this report – and which can compete in global markets for talent and capital for decades to come. It is all well and good offering to create the conditions for investment, but if the activity which that investment seeks to unlock is stymied from the outset then it will come to nothing. That is why the UK’s sclerotic and ineffective planning system deserves further attention. The inherent issues within the planning system have been recognised by this Government. Its recent planning reforms are an important attempt to address some of those issues. Despite the disappointing suggestion that there will be moves away from the more radical parts of the paper, the Government’s intention to introduce a new zonal system, with large tracts of land designated for ‘growth’, is likely to unlock new development and commercial opportunities right across the country. But we remain concerned that the local planning system will remain open to delay, exaggerated politicking and a prevailing sense of NIMBY-ism, including around important industrial developments. Speaking to those who have tried to get permission for schemes off the ground, there is astonishment at how long it takes to start building foundations in the UK compared to other countries, in particular because decisions are often made by low-level council bodies which prioritise peace and quiet over the economic needs of the wider area. It is true that there is a separate regime for ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects’ (NSIPs) in England and Wales. But its application is limited, as it is set up to consider infrastructure projects relating to energy, transport, water or waste. Moreover, a rudimentary glance at the website outlining projects being taken through the NSIP regime shows that many of the applications take well over a year to determine. This is despite the fact that one of the fundamental purposes of the regime is to ‘streamline the decision-making process for major infrastructure projects’. The flaws in the system were recognised by the Government’s recent ‘National Infrastructure Strategy’ which said that ‘the NSIP regime… is currently not being implemented as effectively as possible, leading to slower delivery times and more uncertainty. On the weekend, the Sunday Times published a 12-page broadsheet supplement on Sustainable Investment, under the Raconteur imprimateur.(www.raconteur.net) One article was on the new Biden administration’s likely approach to green energy investment .(“Does Biden’s presidency signal a shift in the green finance landscape?” 14 February 2021; https://www.raconteur.net/finance/investing/does-biden-signal-a-green-light-for-green-finance/) The article, by Alasdair Lane, reported “.. domestically, the president has a fight on his hands. ‘The system is polarised in America. There are people who still don’t accept that climate change is real,’ explained Heather Slavkin Corzo, head of US policy, United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. ‘I’m afraid there will be people who question the need to move the US economy in a more sustainable direction. But we can’t allow those questions to stifle progress.’ Biden seems highly unlikely to include the full radical Green New Deal package in his early spending plans. He is joined in his caution over the GND by digital business guru, the multi-billionaire Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in his new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, (Allen Lane/Penguin) published on 16 February. Gates secured much pre-publication publicity for his new tome, including an interview in the Guardian Weekend Magazine, which wrote “Of the Green New Deal, the proposal backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [the Congresswoman who has promoted the merits of the GND in the US] that raises the goal of carbon neutrality in a decade, he is flatly dismissive, with Gates telling the interviewer. “Well, it’s a fairytale. It’s like saying vaccines don’t work – that’s a form of science denialism. Why peddle fantasies to people?” Gates also opined: “I’m not a survivalist.” Instead his version of survivalism is to fund innovation, the reporter noted. “I’m putting money into carbon capture and nuclear fission” Gates told her. (Bill Gates: ‘Carbon neutrality in a decade is a fairytale. Why peddle fantasies?’, Guardian, 13 February 2021; https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/feb/15/bill-gates-carbon-neutrality-in-a-decade-is-a-fairytale-why-peddle-fantasies) Indeed, his book is laced with positive, if inaccurate, mentions of nuclear power. For example, he asserts on page 84, in a section on “Making Carbon-Free Electricity”, uns der a sub-section titled ‘ Nuclear Fission’ he writes: “”Here’s the one sentence case for nuclear power: It’s the only carbon-free energy sources that can reliably deliver power day and night, through every season..” Later on page 190, he repeats the fake fact, asserting “Nuclear is the only carbon-free energy source we can use almost anywhere. It is worrying that Gates can be so poorly informed he can believe such demonstable fake information, and repeat is, using it as a cornerstone for his pro-nuclear arguments. His editors at Allen Lane surely should have told him when he presented draft text that this information is incorrect, and should be removed. Gates should have known the following: Nuclear power will not provide any useful dent in curbing harmful emissions, when the carbon footprint of its full uranium ‘fuel chain’ is considered- from uranium mining, milling, enrichment ( which is highly energy intensive), fuel fabrication, irradiation, radioactive waste conditioning, storage, packaging to final disposal. Recent analysis by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, in a detailed study “Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security (https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/ReviewSolGW09.pdf) demonstrates nuclear power's CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewable energy technologies. Gates should read it pronto. Gates is not an energy specialist (evidently), but clearly cares hugely about the global threat of climate change. He is, however, an enormously wealthy philanthropist, and says in his new book (on pages 8-9 ) “I put several hundred million dollars into starting a company [ TerraPower] to design a next-generation nuclear plant that would generate clean electricity.” Beforehand, he says, he “met with experts” (unnamed). Clearly the wrong ones. For a man who must have the contact phone numbers of presidents and premiers on speed dial, it is a pity this commendable venture into solutions to the climate change challenge, is so poorly founded. On Gates’ Breakthrough Energy web site, he says that he has assembled “analysts, experts and advocates working to advance smart public policy.” On nuclear, Gates’ approach is just dumb!

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

How UK universities and nuclear power companies got into bed with the Chinese nuclear military establishment

On Sunday, the Mail on Sunday ran three pages of sensationalist revelations on British universities’ military relations with China. Under a strapline reading “China in the Dock”, the MoS banner headline over its investigation read “MI6 fears over universities’ links with Beijing goons.” They were reporting the essential findings of a new 115-page research report published yesterday by a conservative London-based think tank, CIVITAS, titled “Inadvertently Arming China? The Chinese military complex and its potential exploitation of scientific research at UK universities” (Inadvertently Arming China?: The Chinese military complex and its potential exploitation of scientific research at UK universities: 8 February 2021; https://www.civitas.org.uk/publications/inadvertently-arming-china/) Civitas argues that there is a “pervasive presence of Chinese military-linked conglomerates and universities in the sponsorship of high-technology research centres in many leading UK universities.” It media release records “In many cases, these UK universities are unintentionally generating research that is sponsored by and may be of use to China’s military conglomerates, including those with activities in the production of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as well as hypersonic missiles, in which China is involved in a new arms race and seeks ‘massively destabilising’ weaponry.” Much of this research is entirely based at UK universities, Civitas says, while other research outputs include cooperation with researchers in China, often at the military-linked universities or companies sponsoring the UK research centre. Many of the research projects will have a civilian use, and, the report asserts “UK-based researchers will be unaware of a possible dual use that might lead to a contribution to China’s military industries” The report’s authors are Dr Radomir Tylecote, Director of the Defence and Security for Democracy (DSD) Unit at Civitas. He is also Research Director of the Free Speech Union and a Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs. He has a PhD from Imperial College London and an MPhil in Chinese Studies from the University of Cambridge. Robert Clark is a Defence Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society (another conservative think-take, named after the former, whose research interests include defence technologies, alliance-building and the Transatlantic partnership, and authoritarian threats to the global order. He served in the British Army for nine years - including in Iraq and Afghanistan - and has an MA in International Conflict Studies from King's College London. The report finds that at least 15 UK universities have “productive research relationships” with Chinese military-linked manufacturers and universities, and reveals that much of the research at the university centres and laboratories is also being sponsored by the UK taxpayer through research councils, Innovate UK, and the Royal Society. The authors argue that this trend should be seen in the context of China’s stated aim to equal the US military by 2027; and to use advanced military technology to leapfrog the US by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This report analyses the relationships that at least 15 UK universities have established with 22 Chinese military-linked universities as well as weapons suppliers or other military-linked companies. Many of these Chinese universities are deemed “very high risk” by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). The authors find that “The methods by which the UK monitors and controls Chinese involvement in UK university research are, we suggest, inadequate.” The report spells out “a picture of strategic incoherence” suggesting that “China is demonstrating rapid technological-military development and growing force-projection capabilities.” To risk financing and enabling these developments suggests a lack of strategic coordination, the authors conclude. “This points to the need for a strategic reassessment for new rules for scientific research with PRC universities and companies, some of which should be applied directly to the UK’s research councils and universities, while some may require legislation.Other rules are needed for scientific research in wider potentially sensitive scientific fields generally and in universities in particular.” The authors also suggest the UK set up a new government organisation similar to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose role would include monitoring and assessment of university sponsorship. Those measures should form part of an urgent reassessment of the security implications of the so-called ‘Golden Era’ policies towards China and the strategic assumptions that underpinned them. The authors explain the context of Chinese military expansionism and civil-military fusion thus: “Beijing has recently declared that China aims for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to be on a par with the US military by 2027. This would have deep and far-reaching consequences for security for the UK, other democracies, and UK allies. The rapid technological development of the PLA should also be set against the wider background of the increasingly hawkish strategy of and strategic thinkers around President Xi Jinping, as well as the authoritarian entrenchment of the state in China. Scholars have described Xi’s adherence to the concept of the ‘100-year marathon’, a strategic attempt to become a global hegemony by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 1 Research and development in next-generation military technology should be understood in this strategic context. Since the late 1990s, defectors have referred to new military technologies under development by the PLA for use ‘beyond Taiwan’. The aim, discussed by senior Chinese military figures, is to use advanced military technologies to leapfrog the United States in particular.2 This includes the capacity to launch devastating pre-emptive strikes or counterattacks aimed at destabilising enemy forces’ radar systems, orbital satellites, and command and control systems, including through the possible use of unconventional weapons and electronic warfare. This is underway amidst apparent ongoing confusion in British strategic thinking. While UK taxpayers fund research at universities that risks contributing to the development of China’s military, the UK’s R&D spending on its own defence is anaemic: Volkswagen alone spends more on R&D than the entire UK defence sector. Driving the Chinese growth in military technology is the mandated integration and joint development of military and civilian technology sectors, or ‘civil-military fusion’ , which Beijing hopes will give the PLA a leading edge in adapting emerging technologies in order to utilise them for military purposes, across technological fields. This means it is especially difficult to know that research for an apparently civilian business unit of a military-linked Chinese conglomerate, or for an apparently civilian-oriented department of a military- backed university, will not ultimately be put to military use. China has a long history of weapons proliferation to unstable, authoritarian regimes that systematically abuse human rights, a challenge which may be growing. China has supplied military materiel to the Syrian regime throughout the Syrian civil war; it has routinely supplied Burma with materiel including FN-6 surface-to-air missiles,4 107mm surface-to surface rockets,JF-17 aircraft, armoured vehicles, and possibly drones. In Afghanistan, Chinese weapons consistently make their way to the Taliban, including surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns. Chinese entities and companies are believed to have been involved in nuclear proliferation to Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. China’s military force-projection capacity is growing, and its military committing more resources to researching highly-destabilising materiel, such as directed-energy weapons and hypersonic missiles. China’s development of a surveillance state is already leading to systematic human rights abuses. The findings of this report do not detract from the value of the international scientific collaboration in which British universities participate and frequently lead, including with Chinese nationals, and should not be used to cast suspicion on Chinese researchers in the UK. However, that the Chinese military is liable to exploit some of the scientific research at UK universities that we describe, research which is often also sponsored by the UK taxpayer, demonstrates a lack of strategic coordination that is against the British national interest.” One Chinese research collaboration is with Cranfield University at Shrivenham, which is the home to Cranfield Defence and Security, a secure military site whose partners include the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). A researcher at Cranfield’s Centre for Electronic Warfare, Information and Cyber (CEWIC) has a Chinese-funded project developing automated camera surveillance of people showing physical symptoms of stress. An expert in 12 Ibid. 18 Electro-Optics, he is a visiting professor at Nanchang HangKong University, where optoelectrics is a designated area of military research. Surrey University, based in Guildford, has partnered with the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a subsidiary of CASC, to develop 5G technology. Its parent company is a major part of China’s nuclear weapons programme. This formal relationship appeared after Max Lu became Vice Chancellor at Surrey. When she was Prime Minister, Theresa May subsequently appointed Lu to the Council for Science and Technology; he also sits on the boards of UKRI, the National Physical Laboratory and Universities UK, giving him considerable potential influence over UK research funding. Investigation at King’s College London has drawn attention to two pieces of Imperial College London research that it states will “certainly be of interest for military aircraft designers, as well as in civilian applications. These were ‘Structural Integrity Assessment of Additive Manufactured Products’ and ‘Impact testing of laminated glass and composites’, which used a high velocity gun system ‘relevant for nuclear weapons development’. Meanwhile, Imperial College told the Civitas researchers “We do not conduct any classified research.” Dr Xianwen Ran of the Chinese National University of Defense Technology (NUDT ) is described as a “productive researcher” with a professor who the University of Cambridge states is a Bye-Fellow of Gonville and Caius – a constituent college of the University of Cambridge – but not an employee of the University itself. Dr Ran recent papers (not in cooperation with the professor at Gonville and Caius) include: In December 2019, A method to optimize the electron spectrum for simulating thermo-mechanical response to x-ray radiation (‘The X-ray pulse originating from high altitude nuclear detonation (HAND) is mainly soft X-ray and its intensity is high enough [to] lead to severe thermo-mechanical deformation of unpenetrated material… It is possible to simulate [this] using the optimized electron spectrums. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338205287_A_Method_to_Optimize_the_Electron_Spectrum_for_ Simulating_Thermo-Mechanical_Response_to_X-ray_Radiation). The Bye-Fellow who is Ran’s research partner in separate fields is an “Associate member of the Cavendish Laboratory “, and a “Research Fellow at Imperial College London”, and is a “Distinguished Visiting Professor of NUDT” (his CV lists this position as having been from 2014 to 2017, however, at the time of writing, his online profile states that this continues). He remains a High-Level Foreign Talent, a position awarded by Beijing (this ‘comes with a long-term visa’), having been awarded membership of the so-called ‘1000-Talents plan’ in 2015. He remains a Distinguished Visiting Professor of China’s Central South University (he states that at CSU he carries out ‘research with engineers on better transportation systems and vehicles’). Before 1996, he was also a Fellow at the US defense research and development base at Los Alamos National Laboratory, run by the US Government’s Department of Energy. The 1000-Talents Plan exists to bring scientific expertise and knowledge to China, primarily by returning Chinese nationals: ‘The US Department of Energy… has been heavily targeted to this end… According to one report, “so many scientists from Los Alamos have returned to Chinese universities and research institutes that people have dubbed them the ‘Los Alamos club’”, according to Stephen Chen in ‘America’s hidden role in Chinese weapons research’, South China Morning Post, 29 March 2017. Another project sees Glasgow University having established a joint college with a major military-backed PRC university whose collaborations include with a Chinese nuclear warhead manufacturer, the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics. One area that the authors do not highlight is the intended collaboration between nuclear weapons builder, China General Nuclear (CGN), on a giant nuclear power plant at Bradwell in Essex, called Bradwell B, modelled on the Chinese reactor design Hualong-1. There are clearly security–related issues raised by using a contractor-designer –financier- operator company, CGN, from China, which is intimately involved in its nuclear weapons programme, in a so-called commercial nuclear power plant development in the UK. There is an intriguing background to this UK-China nuclear collaboration. Nick Timothy, ex British Prime Minister Theresa May’s former joint chief of staff, was an open critic of David Cameron’s “golden era” relations with Beijing, who raised his concerns saying Chinese investment in sensitive sectors created security concerns. (”UK decision to delay Hinkley Point plant catches China by surprise,” The Guardian 30-31July 2016) He highlighted this potential problem originally in autumn 2015 on a Conservative web site blog( “The Government is selling our national security to China; 20 October 2015; (www.conservativehome.com/thecolumnists/2015/10/nick-timothy-the-government-is-selling-our-national-security-to-china.html) But the nuclear security problem is not at all theoretical. On 13 July 2016, in a coruscating critique of the ballooning costs and unreliability of UK nuclear power, the national financial watchdog, the National Audit Office issued report Nuclear power in the UK, (HC 511 SESSION 2016-17), in which it include the following observation in a section headed The challenges of nuclear power at para 2.11 “There are specific challenges in ensuring that nuclear power is on an equal footing in the market with other low-carbon technologies: Nuclear power plants have very high upfront costs and take a long time to build. Costs have increased in recent years given the extra safety considerations following the Fukushima disaster and increasing terrorist threats(emphasis added) ( https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Nuclear-power-in-the-UK.pdf) A week earlier, on 7 July 2016, to no media attention at all, the official UK nuclear safety and security regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, published its annual progress report. In a section headed Civil Nuclear Security (pages 37-38) it revealed : “ Overall, the civil nuclear sector met its security obligations. There are areas where the duty holder’s security arrangements did not fully meet regulatory expectations. (emphasis added) (http://www.onr.org.uk/documents/2016/annual-report-2015-16.pdf) ONR has since declined to elaborate what the problem is, on security grounds. However, in late July 2016, Mrs May’s former department, the Home Office, issued a report CONTEST, UK strategy for countering terrorism: annual report for 2015 with a section included on Resilience of Critical Infrastructure. Paragraph 2.57 of this report - which must have been prepared and signed off while Mrs May was still in charge of the Home Office - states: “We assess all risks to our Critical National Infrastructure, from flooding to cyberattack to terrorism, and work with operators to enhance our infrastructure security. We are reviewing infrastructure policing to ensure that the UK has the right capability to protect our national infrastructure and address national threats: which include nuclear power plants. (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/539684/55469_Cm_9310_PRINT_v0.11.pdf) In Europe too, the nuclear terrorist spectre has been regularly raised by Europol, the EU’s Dutch-based counter- terror agency. In its 2016 annual report - issued on 20 July 2016 - it revealed under the chapter headed Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) substances: “Nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon facilities in the EU also remain potential targets for terrorists.” (https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/211-terrorist-attacks-carried-out-eu-member-states-2015-new-europol-report-reveals) So what on earth was going on to provoke Mrs May, an incoming British Prime Minister, to start questioning a newly-established industrial partnership between the UK and China on nuclear technology, cultivated in the previous two years by her predecessor, David Cameron, and his Chancellor George Osborne ( who May sacked immediately on coming into office)? Nick Timothy wrote the following on on the ConservativeHome web site in October 2015, when he was still working for a conservative think tank: “Security experts – reportedly inside as well as outside government – are worried that the Chinese could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will. For those who believe that such an eventuality is unlikely, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation – one of the state-owned companies involved in the plans for the British nuclear plants - says on its website that it is responsible not just for “increasing the value of state assets and developing the society” but the “building of national defence.” MI5 believes that “the intelligence services of…China…continue to work against UK interests at home and abroad.’” ( http://www.conservativehome.com/thecolumnists/2015/10/nick-timothy-the-government-is-selling-our-national-security-to-china.html) Ironically, at the beginning of September 2016, the United States Chamber of Commerce issued 116 page report on threats to international free trade in information technology, highlighting the role played by China’s national security laws to exclude US ( and others’) companies from selling into the Chinese market. The report notes: “While globalization of the ICT sector has been one of the most powerful drivers of global economic welfare during the past several decades, a number of factors—particularly at the policy level—are now threatening to slow or even reverse that trend. In particular, some national governments, by intentionally or unintentionally defining security concerns in an overly broad manner, are applying intense pressure on the ICT sector to localize rather than globalize. Such pressures are manifesting in laws and regulations that expressly require the indigenization of R&D, manufacturing, and/or assembly of products or localization of data, or that otherwise effectively preference products and services that localize assembly, source code development and storage, or the storage of data.” (Preventing Deglobalization, 1 September 2016 https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/documents/files/preventing_deglobalization_1.pdf) The report states on national security threats: “The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (“NPC”) passed the country’s most comprehensive piece of national security legislation in July 2015, a sweeping National Security Law that establishes an expansive framework on security and that describes in broad terms how the country’s leadership understands its security interests. The new law’s breadth is evident in its assertion that China’s security interests extend far beyond its physical borders, even into the depths of the oceans, the Arctic, outer space, and, of course, cyberspace.102 It describes national security as encompassing political security, military security, social and cultural security, ecological security, agricultural security, and much more…… At the end of December 2015, the NPC Standing Committee enacted a Counter-Terrorism Law, which went into effect on January 1, 2016. Drafts of the law were originally released in November 2014 and February 2015 and attracted significant controversy. The Counter-Terrorism Law reinforces the government’s broad powers to investigate and prevent incidents of terrorism, and requires citizens and companies to assist and cooperate with the government in dealing with such matters. It also imposes new obligations on companies in certain sectors. Non-compliance or non-cooperation can lead to significant penalties, including fines on companies and criminal charges or detention for responsible individuals.” Writing in the The Wall Street Journal on 7 September 2016, Andrew Browne observed:” China plays by its own rules nowadays…. It bullies Washington’s regional friends and allies.. China is using national-security laws and other means to exclude U.S. technology companies from swaths of its vast market..” (“China’s Subtle War Against U.S. Dignity”; http://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-subtle-war-against-u-s-dignity-1473151399) In light of the Chinese Government’s own stated security concerns and enacted law, it is worthwhile recalling how China abused s other states’ own security laws with its extensive overseas spying apparatus. A month earlier, the press extensively reported on an industrial espionage case involving a Chinese nuclear engineer. One report explained “In a 17-page indictment, the US government said nuclear engineer Allen Ho, employed by the China General Nuclear Power Company, and the company itself had unlawfully conspired to develop nuclear material in China without US approval and ‘with the intent to secure an advantage to the People’s Republic of China’”. (“Nuclear espionage charge for China firm with one-third stake in UK's Hinkley Point,” Guardian, 11 August 2016; https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/11/nuclear-espionage-charge-for-china-firm-with-one-third-stake-in-hinkley-point) Two months earlier, the US Justice Department had issued a press release, which recorded in part: “Kan Chen, 26, of Ningbo, China, in Zhejiang Province, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. On June 16, 2015, Chen was arrested by HSI agents on the Northern Mariana Island of Saipan following an eight-month long investigation into his illegal conduct and has remained in custody. He pleaded guilty to the offenses listed above on March 2, 2016. “The United States will simply never know the true harm of Chen’s conduct because the end users of the rifle scopes and other technology are unknown,” said U.S. Attorney Oberly. “No matter their nationality, those individuals who seek to profit by illegally exporting sensitive U.S. military technology will be prosecuted. It is important that we take all necessary steps to prevent our military technology and equipment from being exported and possibly used against our service members and our allies overseas.” (“Chinese National sentenced to 30 months in prison for smuggling high tech US military hardware to China,” : June 29, 2016; https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/chinese-national-sentenced-30-months-prison-smuggling-high-tech-us-military-hardware-china But this is not a recent phenomenon: 21 years ago, the New York Times revealed under the headline “China Stole Nuclear Secrets For Bombs, U.S. Aides Say”, ( 6 March 1999; http://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/06/world/breach-los-alamos-special-report-china-stole-nuclear-secrets-for-bombs-us-aides.html) that “Working with nuclear secrets stolen from an American Government laboratory, China has made a leap in the development of nuclear weapons: the miniaturization of its bombs, according to Administration officials.” The New York Times published a detailed update on 26 September 2000, stating in part: “On March 6, 1999, The New York Times reported that Government investigators believed China had accelerated its nuclear weapons program with the aid of stolen American secrets. The article said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had focused its suspicions on a Chinese-American scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Two days later, the government announced that it had fired a Los Alamos scientist for ''serious security violations.'' Officials identified the man as Wen Ho Lee. Dr. Lee was indicted nine months later on charges that he had transferred huge amounts of restricted information to an easily accessible computer. Justice Department prosecutors persuaded a judge to hold him in solitary confinement without bail, saying his release would pose a grave threat to the nuclear balance. This month the Justice Department settled for a guilty plea to a single count of mishandling secret information. The judge accused prosecutors of having misled him on the national security threat and having provided inaccurate testimony. Dr. Lee was released on the condition that he cooperate with the authorities to explain why he downloaded the weapons data and what he did with it.” The story was followed up by the Guardian’s sister Sunday paper, The Observer, ran a detailed revelation headlined: "China steals US nuclear secrets,” 7 March 1999) with a follow up in August 1999 (“China Crisis, 22 August 1999; https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/1999/aug/22/life1.lifemagazine2) In between times, the London Evening Standard ran a front page revelation from Washington on 25 May 1999 headlined “China’s army of spies in U.S.”- which unveiled China controlled several thousand ‘front companies’: “The 700-page [Congressional committee] document describes a massive and voracious theft of American know-how in addition to the recently well-publicised espionage that succeeded in stealing nuclear secrets from a supposedly secure weapons laboratory run by the US Energy Department. President Clinton has falsely claimed he was not told about the spying. The report discloses that China uses an extensive network of small and large businesses operated by Chinese nationals in the US to penetrate civilian technology centres. There may be more than 3,000 such firms, mainly concentrated in California and Massachusetts, which are connected to the Chinese espionage apparatus. China requires, as normal practice, that many of the thousands of students, tourists and other Chinese visitors to the US seek out information that might be used for military purposes. Christopher Cox, chairman of the committee which issued the report, says Chinese espionage has been going on for two decades, and continues.” Contemporary concerns over China undermining nuclear security thus have a detailed history. Regulating Nuclear Security The UK nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), says it has “carefully considered the information” in Generic Design Assessment (GDA) – ‘Step 1 Entry Readiness Evidence Pack’ - and “judge that it is sufficient to demonstrate that GNS is ready to commence step 1 of GDA. GNS have put in place arrangements that should help ensure an effective and efficient start to a GDA of the UK HPR1000 reactor design and is committing resources consistent with our expectations. We therefore judge that the project appears viable and warrants the deployment of regulatory resource.” HOW DID ONR REACH ITS CONCLUSION OF READINESS? In the ONR document ‘New nuclear reactors: Generic Design Assessment Guidance to Requesting Parties’ (http://www.onr.org.uk/new-reactors/ngn03.pdf) [ONR-GDA-GD-001 Revision 3, dated September 2016], it states the following in an extract on Security documentation Security Assessment Principles (SyAPs) *SyAPs and associated supporting TAGs – as published in March 2017 - replace the National Objectives, Requirements and Model Standards. These will form the basis of ONR judgement of the GSR (Generic Security Report) Taking account of overseas regulator assessments 167 If a reactor design has been subject to assessment by nuclear regulators in other countries, ONR sees great value in being able to draw on such experience, as well as sharing its own experiences. This is an extension of the normal information exchanges that take place between national nuclear regulators through bilateral arrangements and via organisations such as the IAEA, the International Nuclear Regulators Association (INRA), and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in particular through its Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA). In addition, ONR is participating in the work of the Multinational Design Evaluation Program (MDEP – see www.oecd‐nea.org/mdep) WHAT EXPERIENCE HAVE INRA AND NEA OF SECURING NUCLEAR SECURITY INFORMATION FROM CHINESE NUCLEAR COMPANIES? 168 Throughout the GDA process ONR will seek to take advantage of information arising from regulatory assessments of the design undertaken in other countries. ONR assesses on a sampling basis and therefore the availability of information from assessments carried out elsewhere may enable ONR to concentrate its attention on areas of the design specific to Great Britain. 169 However, it should be noted that it is the responsibility of the RP (= Requesting Party, ie CGN) to demonstrate the safety and security of its design, including highlighting and directing ONR to previous outputs and assessments of regulators in other countries, not for ONR to seek out and assemble information from such sources. 170 IAEA guidance states that even if a similar design has been authorised in another member state, the national regulatory body should still perform its own independent review and assessment (Ref. 17, paragraph 3.37; 17 Review and Assessment of Nuclear Facilities by the Regulatory Body. GS‐G‐1.2 IAEA 2002; www‐pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1128_scr.pdf). The Convention on Nuclear Safety, to which the UK is a signatory, states that each country must undertake safety assessment of its own nuclear facilities and make its own regulatory decisions about the safety of those facilities. In line with these international expectations, ONR therefore undertakes its own assessment of the generic safety case and comes to its own judgements. 171 ONR will not necessarily accept that a matter it judges to be of regulatory concern can be considered to be resolved simply because an overseas regulator has considered a similar issue and agreed its resolution. ONR may, as it considers necessary, test the robustness of such claims. ONR's position on this international context is given in Ref. 18.( 18 New nuclear power stations: Safety assessment in an international context June 2008. www.onr.org.uk/new‐reactors/ngn05.pdf) ANNEXES Summary • This report draws attention to the little-analysed but pervasive presence of Chinese military-linked conglomerates and universities in the sponsorship of high-technology research centres in many leading UK universities. • In many cases, these UK universities are unintentionally generating research that is sponsored by and may be of use to China’s military conglomerates, including those with activities in the production of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as well as hypersonic missiles, in which China is involved in a new arms race and seeks ‘massively destabilising’ weaponry. • Much of this research is entirely based at UK universities, while other research outputs include cooperation with researchers in China, often at the military-linked universities or companies sponsoring the UK research centre. • Many of the research projects will have a civilian use, and UK-based researchers will be unaware of a possible dual use that might lead to a contribution to China’s military industries. • This report illustrates how 15 of the 24 Russell Group universities and many other UK academic bodies have productive research relationships with Chinese military-linked manufacturers and universities. Much of the research at the university centres and laboratories is also being sponsored by the UK taxpayer through research councils, Innovate UK, and the Royal Society. • This should be seen in the context of China’s stated aim to equal the US military by 2027; and to use advanced military technology to leapfrog the US by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). • Beijing’s strategy of ‘civil-military fusion’ means an integration of military and civilian industry and technology intended to give the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) a leading edge in adapting emerging technologies. We suggest that the existence of this strategy makes any claim to be able to reliably cooperate only with the civil branches of Chinese military-linked companies and universities less credible. • This report analyses the relationships that at least 15 UK universities have established with 22 Chinese military-linked universities as well as weapons suppliers or other military-linked companies. Many of these Chinese universities are deemed ‘Very High Risk’ by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). • This report includes statements from the UK institutions analysed: we are determined to be as fair to them as possible, and, provided they responded to our enquiries, the position of each is represented. We have also told those institutions we did not hear from that we will update the online version of this report, if and when they contact us. • Again in the interests of accuracy and fairness, we state here that a number of UK institutions took issue with our analyses. We have duly included their comments and reiterate that even so, in our view there remains the danger that research, which is carried out in good faith, may be co-opted and exploited by the Chinese military. 3 • We also wish to make clear that none of the academics, researchers, or other s staff whose research at UK universities or centres is discussed in this report are accused of knowingly assisting the development of the Chinese military, of knowingly transferring information to that end, or of committing any breach of their university regulations. Nor are they accused of any other wrongdoing, or breach of national security, or any criminal offence. • Sponsorship of high-technology research in UK universities covers areas such as: ▪ Metals and alloys; ▪ Aerospace physics and hypersonic technology; ▪ Ceramics, piezoelectrics and rare earths; ▪ Drones and radars; ▪ Shipbuilding; ▪ Data science, AI, and facial recognition; and ▪ Robotics (land, sea and space). Conclusions China has a long history of weapons sales to regimes that carry out grievous human rights abuses including Iran, Syria, Burma and North Korea. In addition, China’s development of a surveillance state is already leading to systematic human rights abuses, with its treatment of the Uighur minority described as genocide. The methods by which the UK monitors and controls Chinese involvement in UK university research are, we suggest, inadequate. The companies sponsoring UK-based research centres include China’s largest weapons manufacturers, including producers of strike fighter engines, ICBMs, nuclear warheads, stealth aircraft, military drones, tanks, military-use metals and materials, and navy ships. At its simplest, for the UK government and taxpayer to fund and assist the technological development and possibly the force-projection capabilities of the military of the People’s Republic of China is not in the British national interest. This is a picture of ‘strategic incoherence’. China is demonstrating rapid technologicalmilitary development and growing force-projection capabilities. To risk financing and enabling these developments suggests a lack of strategic coordination. This points to the need for a strategic reassessment for new rules for scientific research with PRC universities and companies, some of which should be applied directly to the UK’s research councils and universities, while some may require legislation. Other rules are needed for scientific research in wider potentially sensitive scientific fields generally and in universities in particular. Almost 200 academics from more than a dozen British universities could face jail amid probe over fears they inadvertently helped China develop weapons of mass destruction • Academics, from 20 universities, suspected of breaching Export Control Order • Law is designed to prevent sensitive intellectual property going to hostile states • The law carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence for those who breach it By JAMES ROBINSON FOR MAILONLINE and IAN BIRRELL and GLEN OWEN MAILONLINE: 13:12, 8 February 2021 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9236123/Almost-200-academics-British-universities-face-jail-sending-information-China.html A group of almost 200 British academics from more than a dozen UK universities could face jail, as officials probe whether they may have unwittingly helped the Chinese government build weapons of mass destruction. Officials are investigating the academics amid suspicion they may have breached laws designed to protect national security and human rights. The academics, who are from 20 UK universities, including some of the most prestigious in the country, are suspected of breaching the Export Control Order 2008. The law carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence for those who breach it. It is intended to prevent intellectual property in highly sensitive fields - including military and security - from being sent to hostile states. Pioneering technology on aircraft, missile design and cyberweapons may have been sent to China, according to the Times. Officials are preparing to send around 200 enforcement notices to those suspected of breaching the rules, the reports add, though this has since been denied by a Government source. Meanwhile, a source told the Times: 'We could be seeing dozens of academics in courts before long. +7 • A group of almost 200 British academics from more than a dozen universities could face jail, as officials probe whether they may have unwittingly helped the Chinese government build weapons of mass destruction. Pictured: Library image showing A Dongfeng-41 intercontinental strategic nuclear missiles group formation +7 • Officials at HMRC (pictured: The HMRC Headquarters in London) are investigating the academics amid suspicion they may have breached laws designed to protect national security and human rights 'If even 10 per cent lead to successful prosecutions, we'd be looking at around 20 academics going to jail for helping the Chinese build super-weapons.' Boris Johnson's senior aide in conflict of interest row over China's new embassy A top aide to Boris Johnson has been caught up in a conflict of interest row over claims he helped broker a deal for China's new embassy on behalf of the Government while being paid by two of the companies involved. Lord Udny-Lister helped the Foreign Office lead talks with China over its £255million deal to buy Royal Mint Court - near to the Tower of London. But while working on the talks, which took place between 2017 and 2018, the-then Sir Edward Lister also worked for two of the companies involved in the deal, according to the Sunday Times. Lord Lister, 71, who is now Mr Johnson's chief strategy adviser in Downing Street, worked as a paid consultant for American commercial real estate giant CBRE. The company were hired by China to identify and buy a site for its new embassy. He was also a paid adviser to London property firm Delancey, who owned the Royal Mint Court, while the talks were in place, according to the Sunday Times. Both companies told the paper Lord Udny-Lister took no direct part in the negotiations. A spokesperson for CBRE told MailOnline: 'Sir Edward Lister did not have any involvement with CBRE on the Royal Mint Court transaction. 'He was employed as consultant with CBRE between October 2016 and December 2017.' A Government spokesperson told MailOnline: 'Sir Eddie Lister undertook this work as a Non-Executive Director of the FCO at the request of the government. There was no conflict of interest.' A Government spokesperson today told MailOnline: 'Exporters of military goods and those engaged in the transfer of military technology specified in the Export Control Order 2008 - including universities and academics - require a licence to export or transfer from the UK. 'It is their responsibility to comply with the regulations.' It comes as the Mail on Sunday revealed how the academics could be hit by 'enforcement notices' - imposed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - over alleged breaches of export controls in their dealings with Beijing. It is understood the security services fear some academics have been sharing pioneering British technology could be facilitating the dictatorial Communist government's repression of minorities and dissidents. The MoS has agreed not to identify the universities at the centre of the inquiry on the grounds of national security. The security service investigation, led by HMRC, was launched amid growing concern in Downing Street that academics were engaged in a 'new gold rush' to strike deals with the Chinese over cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs. 'Exporters of military goods and those engaged in transfer of military technology specified in the Export Control Order 2008 – including universities and academics – require a licence to export or transfer from the UK,' said a Government spokesman. 'It is their responsibility to comply with the regulations.' Last week, Manchester University cancelled an agreement with a Chinese military technology company after being warned that it supplied technology platforms and apps used by Beijing's security forces in mass surveillance of Uighur Muslims. The university said it was unaware of China Electronics Technology Corporation's alleged role in the persecution of Uighurs until receiving a letter pointing out the links from the Commons foreign affairs select committee. Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the committee, writes in today's MoS that 'some in Britain's universities have lost their moral bearings and are not promoting academic freedom, but undermining our strategic interests.' The Tory MP argues that Britain is making a mistake to open up universities too much. 'We are handing over the secrets that will help an often-hostile country become the greatest military power of the 21st Century.' The Government investigation came after a report by the Henry Jackson Society last October criticised the Government for failing to prosecute any academics for export control violations. +7 • The study by think tank Civitas accuses 14 of the 24 top universities in the UK of having ties with Chinese weapons conglomerates and military-linked research centres involved in nuclear weapons schemes and developing futuristic technology. Pictured: A hyper-sonic test missile is launched by the US Navy +7 • Chinese troops take part in marching drills ahead of an October 1 military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at a camp on the outskirts of Beijing, China, in 2019 Terrifying missiles so high-tech it's almost impossible to stop them HYPERSONICS China is spending huge sums to create hypersonic missiles that will go so fast (up to twenty times the speed of sound) that military chiefs believe they will be invulnerable to any form of defence. Indeed, some analysts fear that human capability to respond to such lethal weapons will be inadequate and that the only way to protect against them would be to rely on artificial intelligence and computer systems. Travelling several miles a second as they deliver surprise attacks within minutes of being launched, they have been described as a 'game-changer' for warfare. Although America, too, has such Star Wars-style weapons in development, General John E. Hyten, commander of US Strategic Command, told a Senate committee three years ago: 'We don't have any defence that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us.' Such missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, would deliver precision attacks on people, vehicles and buildings. To test such weapons, the Beijing government said three years ago it was building a wind tunnel that simulated conditions up to 25 times the speed of sound. And a contractor has said it has carried out a six-minute test flight for a hypersonic missile. The complexities of developing hypersonics – using sophisticated sensors, guidance systems and innovative propulsion methods – have been compared to building the atomic bomb. GRAPHENE This is a revolutionary material with enormous defence and manufacturing potential. One atom thick and the thinnest and lightest material known to man, it conducts heat, absorbs light, stretches and is 200 times stronger than steel. It was invented by researchers in 2004 at Manchester University – with China's President Xi Jinping having made an official visit to their lab. Among its military applications are as coatings on ballistic missiles, wiring in hypersonic vehicles exposed to high temperatures, camouflage of vehicles and body armour for troops. Chinese reports suggest that the Z-10 attack helicopter – a rival to Boeing's Apache – has been equipped with graphene armour developed at the Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials. The institute has ties to three universities in Britain, where it collaborates on two centres specialising in research into the use of graphene in the aerospace industry. Chinese media have reported plans to use graphene coatings on military installations on artificial islands built in the South China Sea, an area where Beijing has controversially deployed Jin-class ballistic missile submarines armed with nuclear missiles. SPY TECHNOLOGY One of the most sinister recent trends in China has been the creation of a surveillance state that seeks to control 1.4 billion citizens through a constant watch over their movements, thoughts and words. People are tracked via a massive network of street cameras, facial recognition technologies, biometric data, official records, artificial intelligence and monitoring of online activities as mundane as things like shopping and takeaway food ordering habits. The most extreme example is in the Western province of Xinjiang, where Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are under 24/7 surveillance. Much of the network was developed by the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, which supports work at four Chinese universities with ties to seven British universities. CHINESE UNIVERSITIES As part of President Xi's bid for China's global supremacy, he has employed a so-called 'military-civil fusion' strategy that involves universities playing a central role in maximising the country's military power. China's constitution also stipulates that all new technologies, even if developed by the private sector, must, by law, be shared with the People's Liberation Army. A key research institution is the National University of Defense Technology, in Hunan, which is controlled by the military and specialises in hypersonics, drones, supercomputers, radar and navigation systems. It has links with eight British universities, including a formal collaboration with one world-renowned seat of learning. Eight other UK universities have ties with the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which spends 60 per cent of its research budget on defence activities. Another important centre is the Harbin Institute of Technology. It has a joint research lab with the nation's leading ballistic missile manufacturer and has links with three British universities. DRONE SWARMS The Beijing government is developing swarms of 'suicide' drones to hover in the sky as they locate their target – while communicating with each other and co-ordinating their movements without any human input. This marks the next era of robotic warfare, with autonomous weapons replacing current drones that have to be pre-programmed or are remote-controlled. The United States and Israel are also working on such technology, while Britain, too, tested a swarm of 20 drones last month with sorties from RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria. The advanced technology uses computer algorithms – often modelled on biological studies of insects and fish – to create self-navigating drone squadrons. NUCLEAR WEAPONS In total, China is estimated to have 350 nuclear warheads, including 204 on operational long-range missiles fired from landbased launchers, 48 on submarines and 20 'gravity bombs' to be dropped from aircraft. A recent Pentagon report warned that, in its bid to catch up with Russia and the US, Beijing plans to double its nuclear arsenal over the next decade as part of President Xi's drive towards global dominance. Many of these weapons are being developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, a massive state-owned conglomerate that has links with at least five UK universities. Independently, a report released tomorrow will expose the astonishing extent of collaboration taking place between British universities and Chinese academic centres, many with deep research links to the People's Liberation Army. The study by think tank Civitas accuses 14 of the 24 top universities in the UK of having ties with Chinese weapons conglomerates and military-linked research centres involved in nuclear weapons schemes and developing futuristic technology. It suggests scientific discoveries by our universities risk boosting China's drive for military supremacy by assisting its development of hypersonic missiles, radar jamming systems, robotics, spacecraft and stealth vehicles. British taxpayers are paying for research that might unintentionally help China's military soon attain a potentially dominant position,' said Radomir Tylecote, the study's lead author and a former Treasury official. 'This is strategically incoherent – especially when UK spending on research for its own military needs is so anaemic.' Civitas reveals the China Electronics Technology Corporation – which has admitted its purpose is to 'leverage' civilian electronic systems for the benefit of China's armed forces – backs work at four military-linked universities in the People's Republic with ties to seven British universities. The giant firm is seen as one of the main architects of Beijing's sinister surveillance state. The think tank report – entitled 'Arming China? The Chinese military complex and its potential exploitation of scientific research at UK universities' – examines the relationships that 20 UK universities have with 29 military-linked universities and nine military-tied firms, which include some of the country's biggest arms suppliers. A dozen of the Chinese universities have been deemed 'very high risk' by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, while another ten are termed 'high risk'. Civitas, which stresses that all the British universities have benevolent intentions, turns the spotlight on some of the country's most famous academic institutions as concerns grow over China's increasing belligerence. The universities all insist their work is for wider benefit to society, that many research results are openly published in scientific literature and that they make strenuous efforts to comply with all rules designed to protect security and intellectual property. Cambridge University, the Civitas report says, has co-operated with the National University of Defense Technology, a military-run research institution that has been sanctioned by the US. Beijing has boasted this collaboration will 'greatly raise the nation's power in the fields of national defence, communications and… high precision navigation'. A Cambridge spokesman told the MoS: 'All of the university's research is subject to ethics governance and export control regulations.' Imperial College, another world-leading British scientific centre, has three research units sponsored by major Chinese weapons manufacturers. 'Science is a global endeavour, and we are proud to work with our peers in academia and industry all over the world,' said a spokesman. Civitas accuses Manchester University of having provided 'China's main nuclear missile conglomerate with a UK taxpayer-funded research centre'. A subsidiary of this firm – under US sanctions – also funds a unit at Strathclyde University, which plays a leading role in British space research. Manchester also co-operates with Chinese funders to exploit graphene, the revolutionary new material that won two of its researchers the Nobel Prize and is seen as having huge military potential given its immense strength and flexibility. Both Manchester and Strathclyde insist they work closely with relevant authorities to ensure they are fully compliant with all policies and export protocols. Queen Mary University of London has established a 'collaborative partnership' with China's Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU), praising the 'particular strengths in aerospace and marine engineering' of a university that describes itself as 'devoted to improving and serving the national defence science and technology industry'. NPU has at least 13 defence laboratories into areas such as jet propulsion, space technology and torpedo guidance. 'We are proud of our transnational educational and research partnership with NPU,' said a Queen Mary spokesman, adding it followed 'rigorous procedures' regarding security and ethics. Southampton, according to the Civitas report, has links with Harbin Engineering University that were praised for helping the Chinese institution build a 'world class' position in naval architecture. It plays a key role in China's ambitions to build the world's biggest and best-equipped navy. A Southampton spokesman said their collaborations had 'potential to create wide-ranging societal benefits', adding that they followed Government advice and the Harbin partnership simply replicated their undergraduate studies. Harbin is also one of 15 Chinese civilian universities that have been implicated in cyber-attacks, illegal exports or espionage operations. China has a long history of weapons sales to some of the world's most repressive regimes such as Iran, Myanmar and North Korea. Lianchao Han, a former Chinese government official and now leading pro-democracy activist, said Beijing had long seen academic exchange programmes as a way to modernise its military through exploitation of open Western research institutions. 'China has invented all kinds of programs from inviting Western professors to lecture in the country through to hiring them for consulting work and funding joint research projects between universities. These schemes enable it to acquire dual-use technologies for both civilian and military gain and build a formidable army. Sadly, most Western universities and research institutions are shortsighted and still fail to see China's strategic intent.' British universities have looked increasingly to China as a source of income, having more Chinese students than any other country, paying £1.7 billion a year in tuition fees, and for research funding as they developed a network of academic links in both nations. Yet concerns have grown over such ties since hardline President Xi Jinping took power in 2013. He has ramped up nationalist rhetoric, spent massively on armed forces, silenced dissidents, unleashed genocide in Xinjiang and showed far more foreign policy aggression – as seen with China's brutal crackdown in Hong Kong. Many leading Chinese universities have long been linked to the military, whether through their own research labs or via funding from conglomerates – often state-owned – that dominate the country's weapons industry. These ties have been strengthened under Xi through a policy called 'military-civil fusion' designed to maximise military power. This includes a constitutional obligation for all new technologies to be shared with the 2,250,000-strong People's Liberation Army. China's Communist leadership is intent on matching US military might within six years – and then use advanced technology to win the battle for global supremacy by 2049, centenary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. +7 • The Beijing government is developing swarms of 'suicide' drones (file image) to hover in the sky as they locate their target – while communicating with each other and co-ordinating their movements without any human input The Civitas report calls for a register of Chinese firms and institutions with military ties that should be barred from supporting research in Britain, an audit of university sponsorship policies and a new agency to monitor academic relationships. One British defence contractor, who has removed all Chinese-made parts from his firm's products as a precaution in case of conflict, said he thought some universities might be missing the key point of rules designed to stop misuse of technology. 'People fall into the trap of arguing that they only designed the product for civilian use, neglecting the fact that the regulations say 'can be' used for military purposes.' TOM TUGENDHAT: Our academics are prostrating themselves to a Chinese regime guilty of genocide By Tom Tugendhat for Mail on Sunday China's ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, recently bade farewell to this country in characteristic style. Dwelling on golden memories of his time here, he recalled his 'humble part' in President Xi Jinping's state visit in 2015 and New Year's Eve parties on the banks of the Thames. He also mentioned the happy days when he was awarded honorary degrees in ceremonies at the Universities of Huddersfield and Nottingham. The details were telling. What had the Chinese ambassador done to merit these garlands? Here was a man who represented a country accused of genocide by our closest ally, the United States; whose state broadcaster has been refused a licence to disseminate propaganda in the UK; and whose companies are connected to an army that targets our innovations. He was certainly no natural friend to Britain. Sickening details of the persecution of Uighur Muslims – involving concentration camps, torture, sterilisation, brainwashing and rape – have been emerging for years. Yet Beijing's ambassador to Britain would blithely argue – albeit unconvincingly – that video footage allegedly showing vast numbers of blindfolded, shackled and shaven-headed Uighurs waiting to be led on to trains, was an everyday prisoner transfer. The next minute, he'd be given the red-carpet treatment by British universities. +7 • China's ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, recently bade farewell to this country in characteristic style Huddersfield University gave him an honorary doctorate in 2019 when a new Confucius Institute there opened, 'in partnership with the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai'. The focus of this tie-up was 'innovation in science and technology'. Meanwhile, His Excellency became an honorary Doctor of Law from Nottingham, urging his young audience to 'consolidate the China-UK Golden Era' and to 'handle differences with wisdom'. Such snapshots – and the murky web of financial deals they hint at – look increasingly like a sham. Why have Britain's universities been prostrating themselves so enthusiastically to the Chinese state that denies freedom of thought? The ugly truth is that some of our universities, a fundamental part of the UK's innovation-based economy, have been motivated by a mixture of naivety and greed. Among the most prestigious institutions in the UK are some which have been topping up their income with sponsorship from Chinese military and tech firms which, it should not need saying, have aims that run fully counter to our own. And these universities have been doing this while in receipt of billions in British taxpayer cash. The Commons foreign affairs committee, which I chair, has noted that despite 100,000 Chinese students at British universities, there has been precious little debate about China's influence on campuses, despite evidence that it is undermining academic freedom and closing down free debate on subjects such as Tibet and Taiwan. Even Universities UK, which represents our 140 universities, has warned of 'misappropriation of research output, including the seizing of research data and intellectual property'. Has UK-based research been used in the repression of minorities and democracy activists in China? I fear it is all but certain our universities have, perhaps only in part, become enablers in the crushing of dissent. +7 • Huddersfield University (pictured) gave him an honorary doctorate in 2019 when a new Confucius Institute there opened, 'in partnership with the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai' Three examples stand out from new research by Civitas. There are Cambridge's ties to China's National University of Defense Technology – an organisation sanctioned by the US over nuclear missile development. Also, Imperial College's research units, sponsored by Chinese weapons suppliers, including the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which is designing the latest generation of stealth fighters. Finally, there are the Scottish centres, one of which is researching radar jamming with a military-linked laboratory in China. Make no mistake: these are some of the best universities not just in Britain, but in the world. They are at the cutting edge of research and attract the world's brightest students and teaching. Universities should collaborate with the private sector in research. For example, millions of us will benefit from the partnership between Oxford and AstraZeneca to produce a vaccine for Covid-19. But in the race to stay ahead, it is obvious some in Britain's universities have lost their moral bearings and are not promoting academic freedom, but undermining our strategic interests. In opening the doors of our universities to China, we are bargaining away our competitive advantage – and, for a price, handing over the secrets that will help an often-hostile country become the greatest military power of the 21st Century. University leaders must recognise that the great hope of the past two decades – that China was steadily opening up politically as its economy became more competitive – has been dashed. A Maoist personality cult has been established around President Xi, with his personal 'thought' inserted into China's constitution, to be studied by all. He has allowed what Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called a 'grievous attack on Hong Kong's rights and freedoms' by ordering the mass arrest of politicians and activists. Freedom is being crushed so blatantly that the UK is giving many of Hong Kong's residents – all British passport-holders – the right to live and work here. Universities need to wake up to these abuses. The Government must introduce rules that govern the research British higher education institutions carry out with Chinese involvement, sponsorship or support. Particular attention must be paid to science and technology, where it is clear our competitive advantage is being handed to a strategic adversary. It seems Xi has learned from Lenin – the capitalist really will sell you the rope you use to hang him. Or in our case, design it.