Chinese missiles in the new world order

May 24, 2000

by Kenneth R. Timmerman


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At every step of the way, the Clinton administration had the authority to block these technology exchanges, but failed to do so.

Last August, when it tested a new long-range intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-31, Communist China revealed just how successful free trade with American defense and high-tech firms has been - not in expanding U.S. exports or in creating U.S. jobs, but in advancing China's own strategic interests. This is why Beijing and its allies are lobbying Congress so furiously to remove the last restrictions on the transfer of high technology to Communist China by granting Permanent Normal Trading Relations. The future of China's strategic rocket programs hangs in the balance.

According to a Chinese scientist, who lives in the United States after defecting from the PRC in the late 1990s, the Chinese acquired most of the specialized military equipment and technology they needed in the United States, with help and approval from the Clinton administration.

His view was borne out by the Department of State, which last month accused Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Maryland of 30 violations of the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations in conjunction with the sale of rocket technology to the People's Republic of China (PRC).

In a series of interviews, the defector described in great detail how technology and cash from Lockheed, Martin Marietta, and Motorola helped his bosses develop a new generation of solid fuel strategic missiles. I verified his information with these companies, and with Pentagon analysts who specialize in Chinese strategic military programs.

"Our factory was in trouble before I started working there," the Chinese scientist said "Then we got a major contract from the U.S., and things took off."

The scientist worked at the Hexi Machinery and Chemical Company in Hohhot, the capitol of Inner Mongolia, a once independent state annexed by Communist China in 1949. In China, the plant is known as the 41st Research Institute, a branch of the 4th Academy of the state-owned China Aerospace Corporation, which has built all of China's strategic rockets as well as its Long March space launch vehicles.

On April 28, 1993, Motorola signed a contract with China Great Wall Industries Corp. (CGWIC), to launch twelve of its Iridium global communication satellites. As part of the contract the Chinese agreed to develop a "smart dispenser" allowing them to launch several satellites from a single rocket. Earlier Chinese attempts to develop such a dispenser had failed.

But according to the defector, help from U.S. engineers changed all that. "Our U.S. partners gave us the specifications and technical assistance to produce the dispenser," he said, adding that engineers from Hexi traveled to Lockheed and Motorola facilities in the U.S. to exchange data and tweak their design. Motorola confirmed the contacts, and said the company's interest was to ensure that their satellites were lofted reliably into precise orbits, not to improve China's military capabilities.

Nevertheless, the exchanges caught the eye of U.S. intelligence analysts. A Dec. 10, 1996 Top Secret report from the National Air Intelligence Center, obtained by Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz, called the Chinese satellite dispenser a "technology bridge" that with few modifications would allow the Chinese to launch multiple nuclear warheads from their missiles. Despite this, the Clinton administration allowed Motorola and Lockheed to pursue their cooperation with the Chinese.

The Chinese first demonstrated the dispenser in September 1997, successfully lofting two test satellites into orbit. Just two months later commercial launches began.

In a separate contract, Martin Marietta, which has since merged with Lockheed, helped Hexi to develop a solid fuel kick motor used to propel satellites into high earth orbit. "Before we received this help from the United States, China had never succeeded in developing propellants powerful enough to be used for strategic-range solid-fuel rockets," the defector said. "This gave us a new capability."

A Lockheed spokesman insisted that the company cleared all Chinese technology exchanges with U.S. government monitors. But the State Department now says that Lockheed violated its export licenses repeatedly, as I revealed in Reader's Digest last December.

Now that the 4th Academy has resolved design snags with the DF-31, thanks to U.S. help, they are turning full time to perfecting a follow-up system, the DF-41, which is expected to have a range of 12,000 kilometers. According to the bi-partisan Cox Commission report, released by Congress last year, U.S. intelligence analysts expect that the DF-41 will carry multiple nuclear warheads that are based on U.S. designs stolen from our nuclear weapons labs.

At every step of the way, the Clinton administration had the authority to block these technology exchanges but failed to do so. If Congress votes to grant China Permanent Normal Trading Relations status, no future administration will be able to block such sales to Communist China without risking an international trade war and sanctions against the U.S. economy from the World Trade Organization. America's security hangs in the balance.


 [Originally published in the Washington Times, May 24, 2000, Page A19]