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The long march to Long Beach

The high-level fix appears to be in to base the China Overseas
Shipping Co., a Chinese military front, in Long Beach, Calif.

Last week, Judge Peter Lichtman cleared a Los Angeles County
courtroom of all spectators before issuing a ruling favorable to
Washington’s headlong desire to hand over the strategic former naval
base to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Thus, the long march to
Long Beach continues.

The wacky idea was formulated right in the Oval Office following one
of those visits by Chinese arms dealers who dumped money into President
Clinton’s 1996 election campaign. Long Beach city officials, oblivious
to the national security concerns of the plan, saw it as a bonanza for
local commerce and jobs.

China’s interest in Long Beach is as understandable as Beijing’s
desire to take control of the Panama Canal. But there’s even more to the
story than meets the eye — more than most of the opposition to the plan
have ever imagined.

China also wants COSCO, which serves as an intelligence-gathering
operation for the PLA, located near the multinational Sea Launch
project, which will use its Long Beach base to launch dozens of
satellites into space from equatorial ocean locations. The Russian
company RSC-Energia is a partner in Sea Launch along with Boeing.
RSC-Energia is as closely tied to Russian military intelligence as COSCO
is to Chinese military intelligence.

The Sea Launch Commander, a ship two-thirds the length of the Queen
Mary, arrived in Long Beach Harbor last weekend bringing along two
Ukrainian and Russian-built rockets that will launch commercial
satellites into space beginning later this year. The unprecedented
launches at sea require two ships, the command vessel and a
super-sophisticated launch platform — a self-propelled converted
oil-drilling rig — expected to arrive in Long Beach next month. It is
about 440 feet long, 220 feet wide, 20 stories high and rides on giant
pontoons that can be submerged for stability when rockets are launched.

Sea Launch is a joint venture of four companies, headed by Boeing Co.
The operation will be based within a stone’s throw of the proposed COSCO
facility. The Sea Launch rocket consists of three stages, the first two
being Ukrainian-built Zenits. The upper stage, which carries the
satellite, is the Russian Block DM, which now flies as the fourth stage
of the Proton rocket.

And guess who’s benefiting from this project? Some familiar names,
indeed. Sea Launch has sold 13 launches to Hughes Space and
Communications and five to Loral Space Systems. Both, of course, have
long-standing and deep relationships with China.

You might think the administration would be reluctant to risk another
satellite scandal — given the ongoing investigations into Loral’s
transfer of sensitive technology to Beijing through launches in China.
But business is business.

And the Sea Launch business is big business. The first launch is set
for October. A site near the equator has been chosen as a launching area
for satellites that will assume geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above
the equator. Sea Launch will make it possible for many more commercial
satellites to be launched at competitive prices — ranging from $70
million to $100 million.

China does not want to be left out in the cold while such monumental
technological achievements are being accomplished. Long Beach will offer
Beijing a key listening post — just in case its strategic intelligence
and military partners, the Russians, don’t keep the Chinese fully

There’s a lot of money at stake — and a lot of power, too. That’s
why the entire military-industrial complex, paid foreign lobbyists such
as Gen. Alexander Haig, and the World Bank are lining up behind the
COSCO and Sea Launch projects.

But don’t worry. Companies like Loral, Boeing and Hughes are sure to
keep America’s vital national security interests in mind at all times.
And China doesn’t mean us any harm. President Clinton has told us so.

Keep your eye on Long Beach. It’s a staging ground for the New World
Order. When Bill Clinton says he and China share a vision for one big
happy planet, this is what he is talking about.