Sky News host Sharri Markson says the Chinese government is recruiting Australian scientists and academics to a secretive research program called the Thousand Talents Plan by offering lucrative incentives.
Ms Markson said the program obliges its recruits to abide by Chinese law and religious practice and requires their inventions be patented in China, but offered recruits profitable salaries and additional perks such as tuition for their children, jobs for spouses, housing subsidiaries and international travel.
The Chinese Government had managed to recruit an estimated 7,000 people globally under the Thousand Talents Plan, she said.
Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Peter Jennings said under President Xi Jinping’s civil-military fusion, the Thousand Talents Plan was helping China develop weapons and advance its military.
“A lot of this work is essentially being militarised by Ji Xinping, taking the work of Chinese institutions and applying it to the interest of the PLA and China’s intelligence services so what was perhaps acceptable in the 9-0’s and early 2000’s now becomes a big strategic problem in the 2020s because of how China is treating those researchers and using that information,” Mr Jennings said.
Ms Markson said most of Australians universities she had approached were unable to say how Many Thousand Talents recruits they had in their staff. She added it was likely the Morrison government was also unaware of the extent of this Chinese government overreach.
“If the universities themselves don’t know how many thousand talents plan or other Chinese government recruitment program recipients they have in their employ, there is no way the Australian government has the oversight of how many academics and scientist have been recruited,” she said.
Sharri Markson’s exclusive investigation into the Thousand Talents Plan will be detailed in Monday’s edition of The Australian.