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昔日加拿大华人创业“明星”起落记
A Tech Guru Captivated Canada. Then He Fled to China.

来源:纽约时报    2018-07-11 04:44



        VANCOUVER — Sun Yian was living the Canadian dream.        温哥华——孙一桉实践了加拿大梦。
        The Chinese immigrant found fortune harnessing Canadian talent to develop cutting-edge technology, everything from semiconductors to facial recognition, to take back to China. His company grew to more than 1,500 employees across China and North America, and was lauded by Canadian officials as a model for unlocking the Chinese market to create homegrown prosperity.
        这位中国移民利用加拿大人才,开发从半导体到面部识别等各种前沿技术,把它们卖到中国,从而发财致富。他的公司在中国和北美地区拥有超过1500名员工,被加拿大官员誉为打开中国市场,创造本土繁荣的典范。
        Then Mr. Sun stopped paying his Canadian workers and fled to China. Left behind are lawsuits from angry investors and Canadian employees who are wondering whether their work could be used to help China’s growing domestic surveillance state.        而后,孙一桉开始停止支付其加拿大工人的工资,并逃往中国。在他身后,愤怒的投资者和加拿大员工发起诉讼,员工们怀疑,自己的工作是否会成为中国不断发展的本土监控政权的帮凶。
        Canada has long benefited from close business ties to China, and lawmakers have courted the country as a new market for Canadian companies as well as a source of investment. Now, Mr. Sun’s story is fueling calls for heightened skepticism of Chinese money.        加拿大长期以来一直受益于同中国的密切商业联系,立法者已将中国视为加拿大公司的新市场以及投资来源。现在,孙一桉的故事正激起人们对中国资金的怀疑。
        “Canadian officials have to some degree been blinded by China’s incredible economic growth and waves of capital spreading worldwide,” said Michael Byers, a professor of global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “They’re certainly naïve to China’s approach to acquiring high tech from other countries, and they haven’t pushed hard on getting answers before allowing deals to go through.”        “加拿大官员在某种程度上被中国令人难以置信的经济增长和它遍及全球的资本扩张浪潮所蒙蔽,”温哥华不列颠哥伦比亚大学(University of British Columbia)全球政治和国际法教授迈克尔·拜尔斯(Michael Byers)说:“他们对中国从其他国家收购高科技的方法全然无知,而且也没有在允许交易通过之前努力寻求答案。”
        In March 2017, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the sale of a Montreal laser company to a firm partly owned by the Chinese government, despite objections from security officials in the previous Canadian government. In June 2017, Canada waived a security review for a Chinese takeover of Norsat International, a Vancouver high-tech company that provided satellite technology to the United States military.        2017年3月,贾斯汀·特鲁多(Justin Trudeau)总理的政府不顾上届加拿大政府的安全官员反对,批准将蒙特利尔一家激光公司出售给部分由中国政府拥有的公司。2017年6月,加拿大放弃了对中国收购诺赛特国际(Norsat International)公司的安全审查,这是一家向美国军方提供卫星技术的温哥华高科技公司。
        Mr. Sun’s company, Istuary Innovation Group, initially appeared to represent the positives of Chinese investment. His company brought jobs and high-tech business to Vancouver. But a review of the company’s finances and interviews with former employees reveal a murky web of financial and previously undisclosed ties to the Chinese government.        起初,孙一桉的公司溢思得瑞科技创新集团(Istuary Innovation Group)似乎代表了中国投资的积极因素。他的公司为温哥华带来了就业和高科技业务。但对公司财务状况的审查以及对前雇员的采访揭示出,该公司同中国政府密切的财务关系构成了一张阴暗的网络,之前从未得到披露。
        Mr. Sun, 45, who goes by the name Ethan, founded Istuary in 2013 in a Vancouver Starbucks, just as the Canadian government was welcoming greater Chinese investment. At its peak, the technology incubator and venture fund occupied two floors of a downtown Vancouver office building, where engineers toiled on semiconductors, robotics, big data analytics and facial recognition. By 2017, Istuary had 24 offices around the world, including in Beijing, Shanghai, Los Angeles and Toronto.        现年45岁的孙一桉英文名Ethan,于2013年在温哥华的一家星巴克里创立了溢思得瑞,当时加拿大政府正在欢迎更多中国投资。在其最风光的时候,这家技术孵化器和风险投资基金公司在温哥华市中心的办公大楼占据了两层楼,工程师们在这里研发半导体、机器人、大数据分析和面部识别技术。到2017年,溢思得瑞在全球设有24个办事处,包括北京、上海、洛杉矶和多伦多。
        The company’s growth helped give Mr. Sun access to Canada’s political elite, relationships that were nurtured through political donations and corporate sponsorships. Photos he posted online show him smiling with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a trade mission in China. Government officials in British Columbia praised Mr. Sun for creating Canadian jobs.        公司的发展令孙一桉通过政治捐赠和企业赞助培养的关系打入加拿大政治精英圈子。他在网上发布的照片显示他面带微笑,与率商贸代表团访华的贾斯汀·特鲁多总理合影。不列颠哥伦比亚省政府官员称赞孙一桉为加拿大创造了就业机会。
        A Vancouver government agency signed a contract with Chinese industrial parks to expand Istuary’s operations. Istuary joined publicly funded Canadian organizations to do research. Canada’s immigration ministry approved the company for a federal startup visa program that lets foreign entrepreneurs obtain permanent residency.        温哥华政府机构与中国工业园区签订合同,以扩大溢思得瑞的业务。溢思得瑞加入了官方资助的加拿大组织进行研究。加拿大移民部门批准该公司加入一项联邦创业签证计划,该计划允许外国创业者获得永久居留权。
        “The government gave us really good support,” Mr. Sun told a Canadian business summit in 2015, according to a video of his speech posted online.        “政府给了我们非常好的支持,”孙一桉于2015年在一次加拿大商业峰会上表示。
        Yet some of Istuary’s work provoked concern among employees.        然而,溢思得瑞的一些工作引起了员工的关注。
        Eric Hsu, 39, an American data scientist hired by Istuary’s Vancouver office in 2016, said he worked on artificial intelligence capable of recognizing a person’s face across multiple surveillance feeds or detecting specific human behavior, like fighting. “A lot of these security applications were both humanitarian and ethically troubling,” he said in an interview. “Chinese clients had lots of ideas for ways they would use our applications. Some of those raised red flags.”        39岁的埃里克·许(Eric Hsu)是溢思得瑞温哥华办事处于2016年聘请的美国数据科学家,他说他研发的人工智能可以通过多个监控摄像头识别一个人的面部,或监测打斗等特定的人类行为。“许多这样的安全应用都有人道和伦理方面的问题,”他在接受采访时说。“中国客户对如何使用我们的应用程序有很多想法。其中一些令人警惕。”
        An Istuary customer presentation reviewed by The New York Times highlighted the services its technology could offer in Chinese cities. They included the ability to recognize faces through security cameras and run them through databases, as well as track people’s personal relationships. It also highlighted other services, like tracking crowds and land records.        《纽约时报》看到的一份溢思得瑞客户演示文稿强调该公司的技术可以在中国城市提供什么样的服务,包括通过安全摄像头识别人脸,在数据库中检查这些数据,以及追踪人们的个人关系。文稿还强调了公司的其他服务,如跟踪人群和土地记录。
        Mr. Hsu said he attended trade shows in China where Mr. Sun pitched Istuary’s artificial intelligence technology to potential customers interested in products designed to prevent prisoner suicides or for detecting criminal activity.        埃里克·许说,他参加了中国的一些贸易展会,会上孙一桉将溢思得瑞的人工智能技术推广给了对防止囚犯自杀或侦查犯罪活动的产品感兴趣的潜在客户。
        Human rights groups say Chinese authorities have been zealously using big data collection, A.I. and facial-recognition technology to upgrade Beijing’s mass surveillance efforts.        人权组织称,中国当局一直热衷于使用大数据收集、人工智能和面部识别技术,提升北京的大规模监控工作。
        Mr. Sun enjoyed ties to the Chinese government that his Canadian workers and investors say he did not disclose.        孙一桉与中国政府之间有着联系,他的加拿大员工和投资者表示他从未透露过。
        Kuang’en Network Technologies, a cybersecurity company he founded in Beijing in 2014, specialized in industrial control systems for some of China’s biggest state-owned enterprises.        匡恩网络科技有限责任公司是他于2014年在北京成立的一家网络安全公司,专门为中国一些最大的国有企业提供工业控制系统。
        State Grid, China’s national power distributor, said it banned Kuang’en, among other companies, in 2016 from bidding on public contracts because of collusion, without offering details. But that year, Kuang’en formed a joint venture with another cybersecurity firm, BeijingVRV, whose powerful Chinese government clients include the National People’s Congress, the finance and foreign ministries, military contractors and public security agencies.        中国的国家电力分销商——国家电网表示,它在2016年就因为相互串通而禁止匡恩网络等企业参与公共合同的承包竞标,但未提供详情。但就在那一年,匡恩与另外一家网络安全公司北信源成立了一家合资企业,后者拥有强大的中国政府客户,包括全国人大、财政部和外交部、军事承包商和公安部门。
        According to corporate documents and Mr. Sun’s employees in China, Istuary and Kuang’en shared funding, workers, technology, office space and shareholders, including Mr. Sun’s wife, Hu Yulan.        根据公司文件和孙一桉在中国的员工的说法,溢思得瑞和匡恩共享资金、员工、技术、办公室,以及包括孙的妻子胡雨岚在内的股东。
        Former Istuary employees in Vancouver said the company’s collapse began last spring with a series of missed payrolls and final paychecks in May 2017. Many stayed at their jobs anyway.        溢思得瑞在温哥华的前雇员表示,公司从去年春天开始不对劲,出现没有按时发薪的情况,最后一笔工资是2017年5月发的。不过许多人还是留下来没走。
        “Sun kept giving us false hopes,” said Manivannan Gajendran, who led an Istuary quality testing team in Vancouver. He said he took out a $15,000 line of credit to cover his daily expenses while he waited for money that never came.        “孙一直让我们空指望,”在温哥华领导溢思得瑞一个质检小组的玛尼凡兰·格坚德安(Manivannan Gajendran)说。他表示,在等着永远等不来的钱同时,他拿出了1.5万美元的信用额度用于支付日常开支,
        By then, Mr. Sun had gone back to China. In August, Istuary investors in British Columbia sued Mr. Sun and his wife, accusing the couple of illegally using funds to purchase two multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver.        那时候,孙一桉已经回到了中国。到8月,不列颠哥伦比亚省的溢思得瑞投资者将孙一桉夫妇告上法庭,指控他们非法使用资金在温哥华购买了两套价值数百万美元的住宅。
        Canada’s immigration ministry suspended Istuary from the startup visa program after learning of the allegations. In an email, a ministry spokeswoman said it had gathered information on Istuary after the company was recommended by an industry association, and “found no reason to reject the designation recommendation at that time.”        在获悉指控之后,加拿大移民部暂停了溢思得瑞的创业签证项目。该部发言人通过一封电子邮件表示,在一家行业协会推荐该公司后,它收集了有关溢思得瑞的信息,“当时没有理由拒绝指定推荐。”
        Mr. Sun did not respond to interview requests made through his Vancouver lawyer. But he denied the allegations in a letter posted on Istuary’s now-defunct website in October. “We are NOT a Ponzi scheme,” he wrote.        孙一桉没有回应通过他在温哥华的律师提出的采访请求。但去年10月份,他在溢思得瑞现已不存在的网站上贴出一封信,否认了那些指控。“我们不是庞氏骗局,”他写道。
        A British Columbia provincial employment department has since ordered Istuary to pay around $2.2 million in unpaid wages to more than 150 employees and has begun collection proceedings in order to seize Mr. Sun’s residential properties, a spokeswoman from the province’s labor ministry said in an email.        不列颠哥伦比亚省劳工部的发言人在一封电子邮件中说,该省的劳动就业部门已经下令要溢思得瑞向150多名员工支付约220万美元的拖欠工资,并开始收账诉讼,寻求没收孙一桉的住宅物业。
        The fallout, and Mr. Sun’s broken promises, soon reached the company’s operations in China. According to Laura Fan, an Istuary employee in Guangdong Province, Mr. Sun claimed the company’s cash crunch was because of poor management and Chinese regulatory changes. He also blamed Chinese investors and their “political mission” for pressuring him into striking deals with American chip companies, she said.        负面影响和孙一桉背弃诺言的行为,很快就影响到该公司在中国的业务。根据溢思得瑞在广东的员工劳拉·范(Laura Fan)的说法,孙一桉声称公司资金紧张是因为管理不善和中国的监管变化造成的。她说,他还责怪中国的投资者,以及他们迫使他跟美国的芯片企业达成交易的“政治使命”。
        In December, Istuary and Kuang’en’s offices began closing across China, without employees being paid for months of work. “These people never got any of their salaries,” Ms. Fan said.        12月,溢思得瑞和匡恩开始关闭在中国各地的办公室,员工好几个月都没有拿到工资。“这些人都没有拿到一分钱的薪水,”劳拉·范说。
        Just before Christmas, former employees said, two people from a Chinese technology firm that had invested in Kuang’en camped out in the Beijing office, hoping to catch Mr. Sun. A few weeks later, debt collectors locked the doors with a heavy chain. On a recent visit to the shuttered office, trash covered a rickety cot and chairs visible in the entryway.        前雇员们表示,在圣诞节之前,两名来自一家曾经投资匡恩的中国科技企业的人在北京的办公室安营扎寨,希望能逮住孙一桉。几周后,收债人用沉重的锁链把办公室的门给锁上了。不久前,在已经关闭的办公室,从通道可以看见一张破床和一些椅子上堆着各种废物。
        Someone had scrawled a large handwritten message across the glass doors: “The fraudster network fakes bankruptcy, maliciously owes salaries and cons its employees.”        有人在玻璃门上写下了几个大字:“欺诈网络假装破产,恶意欠薪欺骗员工”。
        Underneath was an ultimatum: “Pay us the money and we’ll unlock the place.”        下面是最后通牒:“还钱开锁。”
                
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