- - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

China gets high-tech space device

The U.S. government recently sold the Chinese a highly sophisticated imaging device used on space telescopes that can be used by China’s military for high-tech spying, according to a report in a Chinese newspaper.

The STA1600 high-resolution space telescope could be used by the Chinese military to track and lock onto enemy satellites and missiles, according to military analysts.

The sale of the equipment was disclosed in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post Jan. 3 and came as a surprise to many, including the Chinese themselves.

Liu Qiang, a Chinese government researcher, told the newspaper that “the U.S. government’s attitude [on this sale] is very uncertain, so when the shipment arrived in a box of equipment, we were very pleased.”

Resolution for high-end civilian imaging devices, such as digital cameras, is no more than 12 megapixels. The STA1600 imaging instrument obtained by the Chinese boasts 100 megapixels and was designed specifically for the U.S. Navy.

The Obama administration has been reforming U.S. export controls and seeking to loosen them on certain dual-use civilian-military products while saying it wants to tighten controls on exports of the most sensitive dual-use products.

China’s space program has taken big steps recently in the nation’s relentless quest for dominance in outer space. But one of the few areas where China lags behind the U.S. is in its inability to manufacture imaging devices that have the highest resolution. Exports of dual-use materials and products are subject to strict U.S. government restrictions. Such devices naturally fall into that category.

In the end, trade and election-year politics seem to have trumped national security concerns on the imaging gear. The Commerce and State departments jointly issued an export license to a California manufacturer, Semiconductor Technology Associates, that allowed the sale of the imaging device to China. Because China’s space program is run by the military, it appears almost certain that the device will be used by the Chinese military, which is increasing its space-intelligence capabilities.

War dogs reach 10,000

The People’s Liberation Army has one of the largest war-dog programs in the world. PLA authorities announced on Dec. 23 that the number of dogs trained for military purposes had reached 10,000.

War dogs have been used widely in the PLA for combat, patrol, mine-sweeping, intimidation, security, search-and-rescue and similar activities.

The PLA’s war-dog program started in 1950 under the guidance of the Soviet Red Army. Since 1991, the program has seen a great leap forward as China has intensified its grip on the border regions, especially restive Tibet and Xinjiang. The number of military units that use dogs has reached close to 5,000.

What if Mao’s son were not killed?

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