Beijing Using Front Companies to Grab U.S. Arms Technology

Article excerpt

China is buying U.S. weapons technology illegally through front companies in Hong Kong and Singapore, U.S. intelligence officials said.

According to sensitive intelligence reports, China last month acquired "radiation-hardened" integrated circuits from a U.S. company that were shipped to China from Singapore, said officials familiar with the reports.

The Chinese company involved in the diversion was identified as the China Aircraft and Space Technology Co.

In a second activity, a Chinese missile-manufacturing firm purchased American-made communications-test equipment from a U.S. company based in Hong Kong. The U.S. company was not identified under intelligence-collection rules.

Both sales were reported to senior U.S. officials early last month and are a sign that Beijing is continuing aggressively to acquire U.S. weapons-related goods for its military-modernization program.

All military-related goods sold from the United States to China require an export license. However, Chinese companies secretly have been purchasing embargoed technology and hardware under export rules relaxed during the Clinton administration.

The intelligence reports bolster the findings of a special congressional committee that stated in a 1999 report that the use of Hong Kong companies "is a common [Chinese] tactic for illegal transfer of technology."

In a related development, China is continuing to sell missile-related equipment to Iraq and Iran in apparent violation of its pledge last fall to curb such transfers, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The officials provided a briefing to The Washington Times to highlight what they said were ongoing Chinese sales of weapons and missile technology to rogue states, in violation of official pledges by Beijing to curtail such transfers.

"The Chinese appear to be selling everything to everybody," said one defense official.

In November, the Clinton administration announced it would not impose sanctions on China for selling missile technology to Iran and Pakistan after Beijing promised to curb further sales. Iran and Pakistan, however, were slapped with sanctions.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement at the time that China had no plans "to assist, in any way, any country" developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

Regarding the Iraqi missile-related sales, the officials said a delegation of representatives of a Chinese company was set to travel to Iraq last month to discuss the sale of "missile-related guidance and test equipment."

The company is offering gear to be used in testing missile inertial guidance systems, which are key components of long-range missile systems. …