Taiwan Communiqué No. 86, June 1999

More on nuclear spying and missiles

Mr. Cox releases his report

Chris Cox
Congressman Cox (R-CA)

On Tuesday, 25 May 1999, the long-awaited report of the Select Committee headed by California Congressman Chris Cox (R-CA) was published. Mr. Cox and his Committee had finalized the original classified version of the report at the end of December 1998, but it had taken some four months of wrangling with the White House before a de-classified version could be published.

The most important conclusion of the report was that China had conducted a massive and systematic effort to steal U.S. nuclear weapon, rocket, satellite and computer technology, enabling it to leap years ahead in the modernization of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. In this operation, the Chinese stole the design secrets for all seven nuclear warheads currently deployed on American missiles, including the W-88 design of the warhead on the Trident submarine missile.

The Select Committee also concluded that the Chinese had stolen design information on the W-70 warhead from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and that this information was used by the Chinese to develop their neutron bomb, which was tested in 1988.

The Select Committee also concluded that the technical assistance provided to the Chinese by Hughes and Loral after three failures of the Long March rocket (in 1993, 1995 and 1996) was illegally transferred. It also stated that the information significantly improved the design and reliability of both the Long March as well as present and future PRC ballistic missiles.

The report stated the spying is still going on at the present time, and that the Chinese use the "mosaic" method of obtaining information: a broad network of informants collect the information, which is then pieced together and analyzed. The report states that virtually every one of the 80,000 Chinese visitors to the United States each year is told to collect some kind of information. So are many of the 100,000 students and academics at American universities and research institutions, as well as the some 3,000 companies with open or concealed Chinese connections.

The approach used by China was confirmed in a recent article in the Washington Post by Mr. Paul D. Moore, who served at the FBI as chief analyst for Chinese intelligence for 20 years ("Spies of a different stripe", Washington Post, 31 May 1999).

In the article Mr. Moore writes: "The Chinese seek to develop significant relationships with as many people as possible, in particular those of ethnic Chinese ancestry, whose thinking and value systems China's intelligence officers understand best. They do this on a very large scale ...."

Chinese missiles
Chinese aim missiles at the USA. Comment from Taiwan: "Hope he doesn't hit us by mistake"

"Normally the natural "consumers" of intelligence — scientists, engineers, students, etc — are the ones who actually collect the data, not professional Chinese intelligence officers. The physical transfer of information typically takes place in China, and as a byproduct of a legitimate trip there by someone from the United States. The usual collection mechanism is simple elicitation. The visitor may be asked to give a talk to his colleagues in China, who then pepper him with questions that might induce at least a small security breach on his part."

The full text of the Cox report is available at the website of the U.S. House of Representatives (http://www.house.gov/coxreport/) or at the website of the various news agencies, such as CNN, ABC, the New York Times, or the Washington Post.

The U.S. press contained a wealth of articles about the matter. We just mentioned a few which stand out in their clarity of analysis:

"The China Blind Spot", New York Times editorial, 16 May 1999.

"Nuclear pickpocket", Washington Post editorial, 26 May 1999.

"America's stolen secrets", New York Times editorial, 26 May 1999.

"The real China scandal", Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post, 28 May 1999.

"The China muddle", Fred Hiatt in the Washington Post, 30 May 1999.

Taiwan Communiqué comment: We wish to congratulate Mr. Cox and his colleagues for a job well done. They dealt with a highly complex issue in a professional and bi-partisan manner. Mr. Cox reminds us that there are still honest and principled people in the United States who dare to stick their neck out and pursue the facts, wherever they lead.

The Administration's response

While it appears that some in the Administration, such as DOE-Secretary Richardson, are making a sincere effort in cleaning up the mess, there are also signs of spin and denial.

One argument heard from the Administration side is that the nuclear theft started in earlier (Republican) administrations, and that the present effort to uncover the truth is a partisan ploy. In response to this, it must first be emphasized that Congressman Cox and his Committee did their utmost to come to a bi-partisan conclusion, and they succeeded very well.

Secondly, the nuclear spying may have started under earlier administrations, but it accelerated under Mr. Clinton, and — most importantly — it was discovered in 1995-96, and the Administration failed to take appropriate action for nearly three years.

The lackadaisical response to charges of leakage of rocket technology and the theft of nuclear technology came at a time when the White House was continuously trying to trumpet its "comprehensive engagement" policy with China, which was highlighted by the invitation to President Jiang Zemin to visit the United States (October 1997), Mr. Clinton's own visit to China in June/July 1998 and the invitation to Premier Zhu Rongji to visit Washington in April 1999.

Administration sources and unnamed "experts" have also questioned the severity of the technical losses or their contribution to the Chinese nuclear capabilities, arguing that China has not implemented the technology in its weapon or rocket arsenal.

This is a self-serving and ostrich-like argument: the Chinese did obtain the technology and will use it to their best advantage. Does one have to wait until China launches a missile at San Francisco or Seattle — or Taipei for that matter?

In addition, recent press reports indicate that the Chinese are installing nuclear warheads, based on technology stolen from US weapon laboratories, on their new long-range, solid-fueled Dong Feng-31 missile (New York Times, "China is installing a warhead said to be based on US Secrets", May 14, 1999).

Also, as was emphasized in a letter to the editor by Messrs. Cox and Norm Dicks (D-WA), nuclear testing by the Chinese in 1995-96 clearly showed they had stolen design information on the W-88: they got the test of the world's most sophisticated nuclear design right virtually immediately (Washington Post, "China's nuclear data theft", 31 May 1999).

Another argument from the Administration's side is that China now possesses "only" some two dozen missiles outfitted with nuclear warheads, and that the United States — with some 6,000 nuclear missiles — still has "an overwhelming nuclear superiority over China."

This argument is of little comfort to the Taiwanese, who are likely to be the first target of Chinese nuclear threats and intimidation. The fact that the Chinese nuclear weapons are now at least partially based on American design, makes it all the more essential that the United States will counter Chinese threats against a democratic Taiwan.

Finally, the argument is heard that no export restrictions should be placed on satellite and rocket technology, "..otherwise the Europeans will simply sell the same aerospace technology to the Chinese."

In response to this argument, we would emphasize that it is important for the US to distinguish between friend and foe: certainly there has been strong competition between the US and Europe in this area, but the Europeans are long-time US friends and allies, and have traditionally even been more reluctant to sell space technology to the Chinese. It was the United States which started to use the Long March for the launch of American satellites against strong objections from Europe.

In the present situation, it will certainly be feasible to come to an agreement between the U.S. and Europe to restrict the export such dual-use technology to China.

"ROC-born" spy

One aspect of the case of spying for China by Los Alamos computer-specialist Lee Wen Ho has not been highlighted yet: How could a person born and educated in Taiwan start spying for China ?

Both Mr. Lee Wen Ho and Peter Lee, the TRW scientist who reportedly channeled information about advanced radar technology being developed to track submarines to the Chinese, were born in Taiwan and are the product of the educational system of the Kuomintang.

That they could start spying for China, is primarily due to the Kuomintang's mistaken policies of telling the people of Taiwan that they are "Chinese." Until very recently, students in schools and colleges in Taiwan only studied Chinese history and geography and never learned anything about Taiwan itself.

Taiwan Communiqué comment: This type of brainwashing, which has gone on for more than four decades, should end immediately. The government of Taiwan should discard its "Republic of China" syndrome, and take major steps to let the people of Taiwan be proud that they are Taiwanese, and live in a free, democratic and independent Taiwan.

Only if Taiwan identifies itself internationally as "Taiwan" will it be possible to break the diplomatic isolation, and will Taiwan be accepted as a full and equal member in the international community.

Zhu Rongji came to DC

No human rights, no agreement on WTO access

At the beginning of April 1999, the Clinton Administration invited Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji for a visit to Washington. The visit came at a time of rising tension because of the revelations of Chinese spying at US nuclear labs, the Chinese buildup of missiles along the coast facing Taiwan, and continuing repression in Tibet.

Instead of trying to tackle these important issues, Mr. Clinton focused on trying to bring about an agreement on China's entry into the World Trade Organization. However, at the last minute, fearing a barrage of criticism from Congress, he backed off, and decided to defer a final agreement to later this year.

According to press reports, Mr. Zhu was unwilling to engage in any serious discussion about human rights, despite promises to do so.

Analogy with US Civil War ?

Mr. Zhu also made a colossal blunder during a press conference on 8 April 1999, when he compared China's policy vis-à-vis Taiwan to US president Abraham Lincoln's decision to fight the American Civil War.

To his credit, President Clinton responded that the situation between Taiwan and China over the past 50 years are quite different from the facts leading up to the American Civil War.

Taiwan Communiqué comment: Mr. Zhu's comparison is indeed totally erroneous. Taiwan was never part of China's Civil War, but became a victim of it, when the defeated Chinese Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek occupied the island after World War II, and established their repressive rule, which lasted until the late 1980s.

Taiwan was also never part of the People's Republic of China, not even for one day. Until the end of World War II it was a colony of Japan, and should thus — like all other colonized countries in Africa and Asia — have gained its independence during the late 1940s or early 1950s.

It is important for a proper understanding of the Taiwan-China situation to distinguish between the old ROC Kuomintang — with which the Chinese Communists had their Civil War — and the new and democratic Taiwan, which wants to live in peace with all its neighbors, including China.

Rally against Mr. Zhu

Prof Chen Wen-yen
Prof. Wen-yen Chen : "Let Taiwan be Taiwan"

On Thursday, 8 April 1999, the Tibetan, Taiwanese, and human rights communities held back-to-back rallies against Mr. Zhu at Lafayette Park, in front of the White House. The Tibetan community and Amnesty International led off at 10:00 am with speeches, cheers, and prayers.

At around 11:30 the crowd wound its way to Pennsylvania Avenue, just in front of the White House, and cheered: "China out of Tibet", "Human Rights in China", and "Taiwan Independence."

This was followed by a Taiwanese-led rally with speakers from the Taiwanese-American Community, but also guest-speakers from the Tibetans, East Turkestan and Mongolia. The rally was kicked off by Nora Tsay, secretary-general of the Taiwanese Association of America, and attended by some 500 Taiwanese-Americans from as far away as Kansas, Florida, Boston, New York, and New Jersey.

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An important statement titled "Let Taiwan be Taiwan" was read by FAPA president Wen-yen Chen on behalf of the Coalition for Taiwan Sovereignty. The president of the Formosan Association for Human Rights, David Hung, read a proclamation, titled "Human Rights for All" from FAHR.

At around 1:30 p.m., the Taiwanese-American group moved up to the Chinese Embassy at Connecticut Ave, where they continued until around 4:00 p.m. with speeches and cheers, such as "China, Hands off Taiwan", "Recognize Taiwan", and "Stop Chinese Missiles."

The day was completed with a vigil at the Chinese Embassy by the Tibetan Community, while a reception was being held for Premier Zhu.

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