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Inside the Ring
Defense officials say new Commerce Department export controls on goods to China will assist Beijing’s intelligence services in identifying U.S. technology for purchase or theft for its military buildup.
The Commerce Department announced on June 15 that it is loosening export licensing requirements for some goods with military applications sold to China and imposing new licensing rules on a list of items that could help build China's military.
The U.S. products that require stricter licensing include such things as carbon fiber (used in composites for radar-evading stealth systems), bearings, machine tools, X-ray machines, high-performance computers, rugged telecommunications equipment, phased array antennas, avionics, aircraft, turbine engines and some underwater equipment.
Former National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave stated in a recent report for the National Defense University that in the past decade China remained among “the top intelligence threats.”
“China maintains some of the world’s most effective intelligence services — including the Ministry of State Security and the People's Liberation Army Military Intelligence and Technical Intelligence Departments — with global reach,” she stated. “Collection of scientific and technological information has been one of the Chinese intelligence services’ top priorities. In recent years, China has successfully used espionage to acquire a range of sensitive U.S. technologies, including design information on all of the most-advanced U.S. nuclear weapons, missile design and guidance technology, electromagnetic weapons R&D;, and space launch capabilities.”
The relaxing of export controls followed release of the Pentagon’s latest annual report to Congress on the Chinese military that warns China is buying and stealing large amounts of U.S. military technology for its arms buildup.
“China continues a systematic effort to obtain from abroad through legal and illegal commercial transactions dual-use and military technologies,” the report said. “Many dual-use technologies, such as software, integrated circuits, computers, electronics, semiconductors, telecommunications, and information security systems, are vital for the PLA’s transformation into an information-based, networkcentric force.”
The report noted several illegal activities by China in seeking missile, imaging, semiconductor, and submarine “by targeting well-placed scientists and businessmen.”
The agency abruptly canceled a planned talk by former CIA Soviet operations officer Tennent H. “Pete” Bagley on his new book, “Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games,” a hike through the so-called wilderness of mirrors that is central to the spy business.
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