- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2000

Last year a bipartisan Select Congressional Committee chaired by Rep. Chris Cox, California Republican, is-

sued a comprehensive report on U.S. national security concerns with the People's Republic of China. The Cox report contains 872 pages of details on how China's communist government stole design information on America's most advanced thermonuclear weapons, including every currently deployed warhead in the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal.

Arms control enthusiasts assailed the committee for using inflammatory language and reaching unwarranted conclusions. But about the same time, last Sept. 18, China's President Jiang Zemin presided over a ceremony in Beijing of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party to praise the work of the scientists and engineers who developed and produced China's atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, ballistic missiles, and satellites. Meeting in the Great Hall of the People, Mr. Jiang gave meritorious medals to 23 scientists and other experts who helped advance China's military technologies.

What he said has now been made public. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) translated a December article in the newspaper Beijing Guangming Ribao, the Communist Party's daily paper for intellectuals. It describes Mr. Jiang's long and passionate remarks in a story that runs 17 single-spaced pages. Mr. Jiang praised the "many successful, famous, and talented scientists who gave up their good living conditions abroad and returned to the motherland," where they worked under assumed names to help strengthen the army with science and technology.

Special recognition was given to Deng Jiaxian, who returned from abroad to make important contributions to the research and production of the atomic and hydrogen bombs, only to receive excessive doses of radiation during a nuclear accident that occurred during the Cultural Revolution. Also singled out were noted nuclear physicists Qian Sanqiang and his wife, who returned to China bringing "precious radioactive elements" from the West. They went on to make "outstanding contributions to China's nuclear industry." Another husband and wife team of nuclear physicists, Peng Huanwu and Wang Chengshu, were "subpoenaed and frisked by U.S. authorities" who confiscated semiconductors they were trying to take to China. But Peng Huanwu did return to play a key role in "the theoretical breakthrough and development of [China's] hydrogen bomb."

Yet another honoree was Zhao Zhongyao, a physicist who took a personal risk when he returned to China carrying with him "components of an electrostatic accelerator and a number of physical testing apparatuses." The article notes that through the use of these components China succeeded in creating its own proton electrostatic accelerator, "which played a key role in tackling scientific and technological problems." Cheng Kaijia, a noted physicist who returned from Edinburgh University in Scotland, was praised for working under an assumed name for more than 20 years on the nuclear testing program in Northwest China.

Turning to missiles and space, praise was given to the space experts and their technical staff, "who drew references from the advanced technologies of foreign countries" to build "a satellite instrumentation and command system for our country." Special praise went to Comrade Qian Xuesen. When Mr. Qian tried to return to China, he was "subjected to the persecution of McCarthyism in the United States. He was detained and monitored by U.S. authorities for as long as five years." But Mr. Qian did return and helped develop China's rocket technology from a short-range foreign missile to China's own medium-range, long-range and finally intercontinental-range missile.

This remarkable ceremony by the Communist Party's political elite in honor of the scientists who made China a major military power with nuclear weapons, long-range missiles and an aggressive space program, validates the findings of the Cox report. Those honored were the early pioneers of Communist China's military-technical development, not the people responsible for the more recent intelligence thefts referred to in the report, whose identities are still secret. But the event shows the Beijing government has relied for 50 years on the acquisition of militarily useful information and materials by Chinese overseas.

It is ironic that this event should be made public just as the Pentagon is about to resume what it calls "normal military ties" with the People's Liberation Army. Since the Clinton administration appears blind to the dangers of dealing with the militarists in Beijing, it is up to Congress to make sure this new military relationship does not strengthen China's ability to invade its neighbors or suppress its own people.

James T. Hackett is a contributing writer to The Washington Times based in San Diego.

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