Epoch Times (December 2) disclosed that an internal document it had obtained revealed that a delegation from Hebei province used official visits to foreign countries to help private companies gain access to advanced technologies overseas. The document which was dated July 12, 2019, came from Qingyuan District, Baoding City, Hebei Province. It mentioned that from November 19 to 26, 2018, the Baoding Economic and Trade Delegation visited the United Kingdom and Italy. During the official visit, it helped the Lizhong Group, a private aluminium casting alloy and wrought aluminium alloy manufacturer, to secure multiple contracts. One of the contracts was with UK MQP Limited on collaboration in the super grain refiner project. The other two included an agreement for a joint development laboratory project with Brunel University in the UK and a strategic investment agreement with HT&L Fitting from Italy. Even though the Lizhong Group is registered as a private company, it has been an active member of the CCP’s military-civil fusion project. For example, on August 1, 2016, it participated as an exhibitor in the CCP military-civil fusion achievement conference organized by the PLA Baoding branch.

Another internal document showed that the Baoding Municipal government used the “international friendly city program” to work with government officials and companies in Ireland, which is also called “Europe’s Silicon Valley,” with the objective of gaining access to advanced technology in Artificial Intelligence. According to the document, Baoding City used three steps to build an “international Friendly City” relationship with Cork County of Ireland. The first step was that it signed a memo of “Cultural Tourism Friendly Exchange City” with Cork County in October 2018. After that, it signed another memo to establish economic and trade cooperation. Lastly, in July 2019, it invited officials of Cork County to visit Baoding and also participate in an international Entrepreneurs summit in Baoding. As part of its “international Friendly City” promotion, from June 9-16, 2019, the Deputy Mayor and also a member of CCP Baoding City standing Committee, led a group of delegates and visited the UK and Ireland. The official memo indicated that the delegation met with business and government officials from those countries as well as China’s Ambassadors stationed in the UK and Ireland. They also met companies including the London-based Benvolant Artificial Intelligence Company.
(Comment: The CCP has been actively promoting the “military-civil fusion" policy. Beijing has clearly stated that military-civil fusion is “a necessary choice for the party to achieve powerful military goals in the new era” and emphasized the integration of the private sector into the foundation of the defense industry.)

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