In 1998, the U.S. Commerce Department denied a Freedom of Information
request for “any exports” to the “CAAC, the China Civil Aviation
Authority,” which the Clinton administration portrays as the friendly
civilian equal to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Yet, according to the Commerce Department, documents on CAAC are so
secret that “such information (may) not be disclosed unless its release
is determined to be in the national interest.”
“Neither OExS (Office of Exporter Services) or EE (Export
Enforcement) can confirm or deny the existence of any records responsive
to your request,” wrote Eileen Albanese, the director of exporter
services in a 1998 response to my FOIA request. “If responsive documents
were to exist, they would be exempt from disclosure.”
By 1999, however, the wall of secrecy surrounding the Clinton
administration military connection to Beijing cracked wide open, and in
response to a different FOIA request, the FAA released over 500 pages of
documents including Commerce Department materials on military meetings
with the so-called civilian agency, CAAC.
The FAA documents show the Commerce Department actively participated
and encouraged military technology transfers to China. The transfers,
according to the FAA documents, started in 1994 when Commerce Secretary
Ron Brown and Defense Secretary William Perry formed a joint “Defense”
commission with Chinese Gen. Ding Henggao.
On May 21, 1997, John Hancock, civilian FAA Deputy Director on
International Aviation wrote a memo and summary report on “China ATC
(air traffic control) discussions.”
Hancock wrote, “Attached is a summary of discussions held in Beijing
on Wednesday, April 16, 1997, on future civil-military air traffic
control cooperation between the United States and China.”
“As you know, following completion of U.S. Government (USG) policy
coordination, a small delegation traveled to Beijing to present our
options for FAA-led ATC civil-military programs under the reconfigured
ATC initiative. This activity was previously conducted under the Joint
Defense Conversion Commission which was dissolved by then-Defense
Secretary Perry in July 1996,” wrote Hancock.
The FAA documents also show People’s Liberation Army Air Force
(PLAAF) officers used “civilian” cover-names through the so-called
“CAAC” civilian agency. According to an official CAAC memo sent to FAA
representative Ms. Li Jie, one representative
at the 1997 meeting was “Mr. Li Zhong Li.” However, the civilian “Mr.
Li” had a very unusual title, that of “Deputy Director of ATC Department
of Air Force.”
FAA officials, of course, knew “Mr. Li” had a different title. “Sr.
Col. Li spoke generally about good feelings among old friends,” states
the 1997 summary report attached by Hancock. “He stated an interest in
pursuing additional cooperation. We
understand informally from later discussions that Col. Li believes there
would be a positive response in about 3 months.”
Other CAAC/PLAAF joint operations have been documented. The 1999 Cox
report detailed the use of the CAAC as a cover in an intelligence
operation that endangered an airliner full of civilian passengers.
“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) has used at least one
commercial air carrier to assist in its technology transfer efforts,”
states the Cox report.
“In 1996, Hong Kong Customs officials intercepted air-to-air missile
parts being shipped by CATIC (China National Aero-Technology Import and
Export Corporation) aboard a commercial air carrier,
Dragonair. Dragonair is owned by China International Trade and
Investment Company (CITIC), the most powerful and visible PRC-controlled
conglomerate, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China.”
Moreover, there is evidence that President Clinton personally
approved of the military exchanges with the Chinese Air Force. According
to 1998 General Accounting Office (GAO) testimony, there was a
“presidential waiver for export” to the PLAAF.
“Waivers were also granted to permit the export of encryption
equipment controlled on the Munitions List,” states the GAO testimony,
“One case involved a $4.3-million communications export to China’s Air
The GAO also noted why the PLAAF needed American encryption
technology. The GAO wrote, “China lacks command and control
capabilities needed to effectively integrate its armed forces in the
fast-moving joint offensive operations called for by its new doctrine.
China’s air force units are hampered in their ability to communicate
with air defense, naval, and ground units.”
The advanced encryption technology translates into secure air combat
communications for the PLAAF. The Chinese army can now use modern
encryption code systems to establish secure links with its missiles and
men in combat.
In addition, U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite
navigation technology was also passed to China under the guise of
commercial airline technology.
According to the GAO, “Since 1990, over $12 million in export
licenses have been approved for Munitions List equipment designed for
inclusion in civil products. These exports are not prohibited under
U.S. sanctions and therefore do not require a presidential waiver. The
majority of these exports involve navigational electronics used in
commercial airliners operated in China.”
Further evidence of the GPS transfer and its military impact is
documented in a 1997 Rand Corp. report forced from the Commerce
Department by a federal lawsuit.
“The most troubling potential transfer to China is Rockwell’s
proposed joint venture deal with the Shanghai Broadcast Equipment
Factory and the Shanghai Avionics Corporation, the latter of which is a
key enterprise of the Aviation Industries of China,” states the 1997
“Rockwell Collins Navigation and Communications Equipment Company,
Ltd. will design, develop, and build Global Positioning System
navigation receivers systems for the Chinese market. These components
have serious dual-use applications, since the acquisition of reliable
GPS data can enhance, to varying degrees, the capacity of militaries to
field highly accurate cruise and ballistic missiles, such as those used
to intimidate Taiwan during March 1996.”
According to the Rand report, the GPS sale had great impact on
Taiwan: “More accurate GPS systems would enhance the PLA’s ability to
carry out attacks against Taiwan’s military and industrial facilities.
Potentially reducing the ability of the Taiwanese military to defend
itself against PRC coercive diplomacy.”
“The use of GPS to enhance the accuracy of long-range Chinese cruise
missiles, coupled with long-range sensors, would raise serious concerns
for the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Pacific,” wrote the Rand Corp. “And
possibly circumscribe their ability to provide an effective deterrent in
a crisis over Taiwan.”
The recently released FAA documents also show extensive briefings on
GPS technology given to the PLAAF officers. One such document describes
in English and Chinese the workings of the GPS “Space Segment” and the
system’s “Ground Control Segment” including the central control location
in “Colorado.” The document also details how GPS works using
“triangulation from satellites” to “measure distances using the travel
time of a radio signal” and “very accurate clocks.”
Included in the detailed documents are a list of important political
milestones, labeled “GPS-Related DOD/Civilian Cooperative Initiatives.”
According to the FAA, the major satellite navigation events include a
Clinton “Presidential Decision Directive,” dated March 29, 1996, and a
“Vice President Gore” announcement of a GPS “modernization” on Jan. 25,
The approved military technology sales to China clearly pose a
significant threat to U.S. armed forces. Noteworthy, and underreported
in the mainstream press, is the transfer of American missile technology
by the PRC to a number of other nations, including solid-fuel technology
for Iran, and advanced guidance systems used in M-11 missiles sold to
Pakistan and DF-15 missiles sold to Syria.
The mountain of evidence should push the Clinton/Gore White House
away from further military contacts with the Chinese army. Yet,
according to one national security specialist, Clinton is courting
Chinese military contacts.
“Clinton is planning to meet with General Xiong Guang Kai in December
1999,” stated William Triplett, co-author of the new book, “Red Dragon
Rising,” during a recent interview.
“General Xiong made the now infamous comment, during the 1996 Taiwan
Straits missile exercise, concerning the willingness of America to trade
Los Angeles for Taipei,” said Triplett.
Al Santoli, a national security advisor for Rep. Dana Rohrbacher,
R-Calif., described the planned visit of Gen. Xiong as “an in-your-face
move” by President Clinton.
“This is a wake up call for Congress,” said Santoli. “The
administration often talks about future threats from Bin Laden and
Saddam Hussein. In 1996, PLA General Xiong Guang Kai threatened to
strike the American homeland with real nuclear missiles and all Bill
Clinton can do is open the White House to him.”
“It certainly is an ‘in-your-face’ move by Clinton,” agreed
Triplett. “General Xiong will soon be sipping champagne inside the
White House. General Xiong was second in command during the brutal
massacre in Tiananmen Square. The same Chinese General threatened
America. He may be a friend to Bill Clinton but he certainly is no
friend to the United States.”
CORRECTION: Richard Fisher, a defense analyst working for Congressman
Christopher Cox, R-Calif., was incorrectly identified as “Robert Fisher”
in an article published on Nov. 8, 1999, entitled “Chinese Deploy
‘Threatening’ New Missile.” Mr. Fisher is a former member of the
American Enterprise Institute.
CLARIFICATION: In the editorial published on Nov. 2, 1999, the FBI
documents obtained using the Freedom of Information Act do not contain
any references to “prostitutes” being used to procure information from
foreign diplomats. The FOIA requested FBI information on any data
gathered or disseminated using such
illegal activities. The FBI will not confirm nor deny the allegations
and has withheld several hundred pages of secret materials. The
materials are under appeal.
UNDER DISPUTE: Congressional and defense analysts question a recent
report that the new Chinese Dong Feng DF-41 missile is a copy of the
Russian made SS-27 Topol M, published Oct. 28, 1999 (“The New
2-against-1 arms race”). According to illustrations and statements
published in Aviation Week & Space Technology, the
DF-41 is a Chinese variant of the SS-27 Topol M. Some defense
specialists now disagree, citing evidence the DF-41 is actually an
improved version of the DF-31 missile. None of the experts dispute that
the long range DF-41 will use Russian Topol M technology sold to the
PRC, combined with U.S. technology sold by the Clinton administration.