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Canada on alert for Chinese spies

June 20, 2005 at 2:27 PM

OTTAWA, June 20 (UPI) -- Canada has vowed tough counterintelligence measures to stay on top of an alleged Chinese espionage ring.

The Canadian government is taking seriously a Chinese defector's allegations Beijing has more than 1,000 spies in Canada and has pledged to take whatever security actions are necessary to protect its sovereignty, the Globe and Mail reported.

Under pressure from Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper to crack down on Chinese spying, Prime Minister Paul Martin told the House of Commons: "Canadians can rest assured that we maintain a very strong law enforcement and security system that will enable Canadians to be assured of their own protection and their own security."

Martin was responding to questions about the assertion of former Chinese police officer Hao Fengjun that Beijing maintained more than 1,000 spies in Canada to inform on members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa flatly denies the allegations. But both the Australian and Canadian governments have indicated they are taking Mr. Hao's allegations seriously enough to investigate.

"We always take all of these allegations very seriously," Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said.

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