- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2000

Majority Leader Trent Lott promises that the Senate will soon grant China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) but at the same time they should send a pro-security message to the next president by passing the "China Nonproliferation Act." Without an aggressive security stand, Chinese spies will continue to fleece America of its technology.

Either our government is incredibly naive about China or it is corrupt. Earlier this week, for example, The Washington Times reported that communist China annually sends hundreds of low wage technicians to work inside American high-tech firms on military-related programs. This is especially alarming given last year's Cox report.

That report warned that Beijing forces American firms to hand over technology to obtain entry to Chinese markets. It also revealed that Beijing uses Chinese nationals employed by U.S. firms to steal technology.

The "China Nonproliferation Act," which is pending passage in the Senate, would restrict the sale, transfer or misuse of sensitive technologies to the communist Chinese. It would require the president to closely monitor all transactions with China that might help that regime's military forces and compel China to stop transferring missile technology to rogue countries such as Iran.

A serious effort to curb China's feast on American technologies is overdue. During President Clinton's stewardship, China has bought or stolen some of our technological crown jewels: secrets to seven nuclear warheads, ballistic missile know-how, and deep-sea and stealth technologies.

Mr. Clinton's Commerce Department blatantly circumvented important security checks to allow high-technology sales to China. Missile and satellite firms like Loral and Hughes sold know-how to the Chinese, which helped their ballistic missile program. The administration liberalized high-performance computer exports to China. These computers are now being used to test and design nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. In 1996, in order to sell technology, the administration falsely certified that China is not a nuclear proliferator, but recent reports indicate that China continues to help Pakistan and Iran develop atomic programs.

Security problems at Los Alamos were exacerbated by Mr. Clinton's first energy secretary, Hazel O'Leary, who dramatically loosened security procedures at the lab. This decision drew national attention last year after the Wen Ho Lee spy scandal broke. At that time, the new energy secretary, Bill Richardson, promised to fix the security nightmare, but this spring, there was more bad news when hard drives containing top secret nuclear information mysteriously disappeared for a time.

The security crisis is pervasive. This spring the FBI discovered monitoring bugs planted inside State Department rooms. The State Department also lost a laptop computer loaded with top secret military information.

Last month, China's Xinhua News Agency, a front for China's Ministry of State Security, purchased a new headquarters building that has a view of the Pentagon's outermost corridor, where senior officials work and an array of antennas on the Pentagon's roof are located. Interestingly, this same complex was once owned by the East German government, known for its aggressive spying. Days after the purchase was publicized, Congress voted to block the sale.

Security against Chinese intrusion isn't much better inside the Pentagon. The Defense Department's Technology Security Policy Office (DTSPO) that oversees high-tech transfers to potential adversaries is being moved miles away and key intelligence assessments of proposed technology transfers are being shut down.

The DTSPO, which was previously known as the Defense Technology Security Administration, has been the lone administration voice that has consistently objected to the Commerce Department's open door treatment of the Chinese.

Recently, Dave Tarbell, who directs the DTSPO, made technology transfers to China easier. He directed his staff to cut the Defense Intelligence Agency out of the review process for technologies bound for Israel. Insiders complain that decoupling DIA from the review process removes a major barrier to the transfer of sophisticated technologies to Israel, that could then be sold to China.

Mr. Tarbell's directive came days prior to the arrival of Israeli Defense Minister Ephraim Shen who came to Washington to "straighten things out" over a planned sale of Phalcon, an airborne warning and control system, to China. Under pressure, last week, Israel pulled the Phalcon sale.

Recently, Mr. Tarbell ordered DIA to exclude foreigners who are working for U.S. high-tech firms, so-called "deemed export" cases, from their threat assessment to Congress. This is significant because some of our best technology firms clamor for cheap, highly trained Chinese labor. Beijing eagerly ships them to Silicon Valley where using special visas, they displace American workers and may eventually return to China with our secrets.

American companies and our government have been poor custodians of this nation's technology and the problem has become worse under this administration. Immediate action is needed.

The Senate should reject PNTR but, if Congress must grant China PNTR, then it should protect our technology by passing the "China Nonproliferation Act."

Congress should ask the DIA about Pentagon guidance regarding intelligence assessments of technology bound for Israel and other countries that sell military technology to China.

Congress should also investigate why Chinese nationals with access to U.S. export controlled technology are specifically excluded from their threat assessment.

Finally, the American people must insist that this administration's security ineptitude not be repeated. The next president must appoint reliable people who will guard our secrets.

Since 1993, stolen or purchased American technology has enabled China's military to advance decades beyond where it would have been without our help. That nation, which considers the U.S. an "enemy" and whose defense minister said war with the U.S. is "inevitable," soon will be prepared to face our military on the battlefield.

Robert L. Maginnis is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and is the Family Research Council's vice president for national security and foreign affairs.

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