Missile-Technology Transfers Threaten U.S., Panel Warns: Export Policies Called Boon to China

Article excerpt

A special House committee investigating U.S. technology transfers to China concluded yesterday that Clinton administration export policies damaged U.S. national security by allowing military know-how to leak to Beijing's forces.

"Based on unclassified information, I can tell you today that we have found that national security harm did occur," said Rep. Christopher Cox, the committee chairman. "We have investigated these questions more thoroughly than any other part of the United States government."

The California Republican did not elaborate on the damage, citing secrecy rules. But he said the transfers involved both "dual-use" technology - for military and civilian applications - and technology directly supporting weapons research and development.

"Rather quickly, our investigation led to even more serious problems of [Chinese] technology acquisition efforts targeted at the United States," Mr. Cox said. "The seriousness of these findings and their enormous significance to our national security led us to a unanimous report."

Mr. Cox spoke after his panel, the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns With the People's Republic of China, voted unanimously to approve a secret 700-page report on missile-related technology transfers from the United States to China.

The committee was set up because of disclosures that scientists from two U.S. companies, Hughes Electronics Corp. and Loral Space & Communications Ltd., turned over technology to China that significantly improved the reliability of China's nuclear missiles. The transfers occurred after President Clinton loosened controls over satellite exports.

"The select committee has found that the transfer of sensitive U.S. technology to the People's Republic of China goes beyond the Hughes and Loral instances that were a significant part of the reason that the committee was formed," Mr. Cox said. "These transfers are not limited to missile satellite technology, but cover militarily significant technologies."

Chinese efforts to acquire technology are part of a "serious and sustained" program beginning two decades ago and continuing today, Mr. Cox said.

The danger of weapons know-how helping China extends beyond that country because of Beijing's record of selling missiles and weapons technology to rogue states like Iran, Mr. Cox said.

"It is not just the harm that occurs in the first instance to the United States from the transfer of technology that we concerned ourself with, but also the derivative harm from the proliferation of that information once it is transferred," he said.

Rep. Norm Dicks of Washington, the committee's ranking Democrat, said: "Another thing we found out is that the [People's Republic of China] is getting a lot of information on technology from other countries, particularly Russia, and we looked at that very seriously as well."

The panel made 38 recommendations to both the administration and Congress that would tighten controls over sensitive technology exports.

Mr. Cox said the committee's goal is "that we don't have any trade in military items with the PRC," although "our recommendations appreciate and underscore the need for U. …