It is too soon to tell whether Dechert was indeed the target of a “honey trap” by Shi, and we’ll leave it to Canada’s intelligence officials to go to the bottom of this. But one thing is certain: Baird’s reference to the whole affair as “ridiculous,” and his refusal to fire Dechert over the matter, is both premature and ultimately naïve.
Stephen Harper’s government can choose to put its head in the sand and pretend that its new-found friend in Asia does not represent a security risk, but this won’t change the fact that China was, and remains, a threat. And with opportunities for contact increasing as Ottawa further opens up to China, so will the potential for recruitment by Chinese spies. Beijing’s denials notwithstanding, there is little doubt that it possesses both the means and intent to do so.