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September 1, 2011
Notes from the Pentagon

Pentagon technology security officials are set to meet with General Electric officials on Thursday to discuss security concerns related to the transfer of jet avionics technology to China.

The meeting was called after congressional staff pressed the Pentagon to review whether China could divert U.S. commercial jet technology to military systems, as Beijing has done with missile, jet and satellite know-how.

GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said the meeting with officials of the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) was prompted by press reports criticizing GE’s joint venture with the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China, or AVIC.

“This doesn’t involve military technology,” Mr. Kennedy said.

The meeting is one of several GE has had with administration officials, including earlier sessions with Pentagon, Commerce and State Department officials.

The Pentagon has been under pressure for months from members of Congress concerned about China’s record of diverting civilian technology for military purposes, and its reputation for abusing intellectual property.

Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginian Republican, expressed concern about the joint venture.

“The American people have the right to be appalled that one of their largest corporations is giving away our technological edge and a large segment of our jobs to our nation’s largest military and commercial competitor,” Mr. Forbes said in a statement.

The GE-AVIC deal also is raising political concerns among some in Congress about possible government favoritism toward GE: Company chief executive Jeffrey R. Immelt heads the Obama administration’s jobs and competitiveness program. The Pentagon has not formally reviewed the technology transfer involved in the GE-AVIC joint venture because no formal export licenses were sought, and GE insists its safeguards are sufficient to protect any data leakage. However, defense officials are concerned that helping China develop commercial avionics will boost its large-scale jet fighter program, which includes a new J-20 stealth jet first flown in January.

According to a DTSA statement to Congress in June, when GE first discussed the Chinese venture in 2009, “DTSA technical experts raised questions about the technology as well as the industrial and intellectual property security at the proposed facility [in China].

“DTSA expressed reservations about the GE self-determination that the proposed technologies would not require a license,” the statement says. “At the time, GE did not provide any detailed descriptions of the technology involved in the joint venture.”

The statement noted that “China traditionally has a history of cooperation between civil and military sectors …

“DTSA opined that there was the potential/possibility for China to exploit civil technologies for use in its own military modernization.”

GE officials said technology will be protected from diversion to the Chinese military by an agreement prohibiting Chinese military officials from taking part in the venture, a measure that security officials say will be difficult to enforce. The DTSA statement also indicated that the office of the director of national intelligence has information about AVIC’s past involvement in illicit arms proliferation, and details of the suspected Chinese involving in the cyber-theft of U.S. data from defense contractors involved in the new Joint Strike Fighter.

In 2004, China acquired from Boeing military navigation technology used on advanced U.S. missiles and warplanes from gyroscopic microchips used on the guidance systems of Boeing 737-800 jets sold to China.

A Chinese general recently disclosed new details about several espionage cases involving senior Chinese civilian and military officials caught spying for foreign governments.

Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan, director of strategic teaching and research at China’s National Defense University, spoke for about 10 minutes during a 2½-hour lecture, and his comments ended up on two Chinese video-sharing sites and eventually YouTube.

The general revealed eight cases of spying and said some of the cases were too embarrassing or damaging for Chinese Communist leaders to admit publicly.

After the video began circulating widely, Chinese sensors quickly removed it, but a copy remained posted on YouTube last weekend.

Some of the cases had been disclosed earlier, but the general’s presentation, apparently part of a book-promotion talk, provided new details and are said by China affairs analysts to be very unusual: • Kang Rixin, communist commissar and head of the China National Nuclear Corporation [CNNC], sold nuclear secrets to foreign governments. According to Gen. Jin, the leaks caused a “mole hunt” that led to Kang’s arrest. Beijing hid the case by claiming Kang was guilty of embezzling money. • Li Bin was Chinese ambassador to South Korea and was recruited by the intelligence service and later was a special envoy to South Korea. He supplied secrets about China’s role in the six-nation nuclear talks on North Korea. Gen. Jin said Li’s spying undermined Chinese strategic initiatives the talks. To keep the case secret, China sentenced him to eight years in prison — not for espionage, but for homosexual conduct and embezzlement.

• Cai Xiaohong, arrested in 2003, provided secrets to Britain while working as chief of the Xinhua news agency in Hong Kong during the 1990s.

According to Gen. Jin, the secrets helped London in negotiations for the 1999 transfer of Hong Kong to China. Cai was a senior official in the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong.

• Col. Xu Junping, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officer posted in the United States, defected while he as chief of the Defense Ministry’s U.S. unit. He provided details about senior Chinese leaders and their decision-making characteristics.

• Tong Daning was executed for supplying Taiwan with secret documents from Communist Party Central Committee on Beijing’s plan to adjust exchange rates while working as chief of the General Office of the National Council for Social Security Fund of China.

Gen. Jin said Tong’s spying saved Taipei $6.9 billion.

• Wang Qingjian, a senior colonel posted to the Chinese Embassy in Japan, worked with Japanese intelligence by allowing long-range electronic sensors to penetrate his office by opening his office window and installing electronic bugs in the offices of the ambassador and defense attache there.

• Col. Jia Shiqing, a PLA air force officer who spied after he was denied promotion to be head of the Air Force Military Training Department. Jia downloaded secret military reports to flash drives, which he hid in a body cavity while transporting them to spy handlers.

• Lu Jianhua, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who sold secrets to the U.S., Russian, Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese governments.

Gen. Jin also discussed the Chinese intelligence operation to entrap a Japanese code clerk at the consulate in Shanghai who had frequented a pornography shop.

Gen. Jin is considered a hard-liner, based on his 2005 comments urging Beijing to attack Taiwan if Taipei succeeds in joining the United Nations or the World Health Organization.


The NATO command in Afghanistan is defending the venerable CH-47 Chinook, the helicopter shot down Aug. 6, killing 30 Americans, including 17 Navy SEALs.

The Washington Times first reported Aug. 25 that the twin-engine helicopter is the most susceptible to rocket-propelled-grenades (RPGs) based on data compiled by a former Army aviator. It also said the Taliban was “somewhat skilled” in hitting copters with RPGs. For example, an RPG brought down the CH-47 on Aug. 6 as it was landing; in 2005, an RPG felled a special operations MH-47 helicopter sent to rescue pinned down SEALs.

“The use of the Chinook for operations in Afghanistan is extensive,” Army Col. Gary Kolb told reporter Rowan Scarborough. “The Special Operations forces alone have conducted over 10,000 rotary wing missions in the past year alone, with the majority of those missions using Chinooks. … Overall, [the military in Afghanistan] has conducted over 50,000 rotary wing missions in the past year alone.

“To give credit to the Taliban as being ‘somewhat skilled’ in their ability in shoot helicopters down is quite a leap and I’d be curious as to what criteria is used to make that assessment considering the number of rotary wing missions conducted in Afghanistan,” Col. Kolb said. “This statement also unnecessarily raises doubts in the public’s mind that the Chinook is not a safe helicopter to operate.”

The Times quoted special operations sources as saying the Chinook is not designed to land in the midst of a firefight.

Two weeks before the doomed SEAL mission, an RPG downed a Chinook as it was landing in Kunar Province. No fatalities were reported.

McClatchy newspapers quoted Pentagon officials as saying a crash probe will determine whether the command should send Chinooks directly into a battle.

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