IV. A Story With a Beginning, But No End
There is no more ridiculous part in the Cox Report than Chapter Seven, Launch Site Security in the PRC. Cox and his ilk believe that the best chance for China to "steal" American satellite technology through commercial launches would be when the American satellite and related data were delivered to the Chinese launch site. Therefore, they took great pains to collect and enumerate a large amount of trifle materials and details, trying to prove that China "stole" the American technology. However, having failed to produce any evidence, they were forced to repeatedly admit that the Select Committee has "found no witness to confirm that a transfer to the PRC of controlled US technology has occurred as a result of ineffective launch site security". But they were not willing to give up their preliminary conclusion that China must have stolen American satellite technology. Therefore, they have to use a lot of conjectural words, such as "if" and "perhaps", to mislead public opinion.
Since 1990, China has carried out over 20 commercial satellite launches at the Xichang, Taiyuan and Jiuquan launch sites. Of these, except for the Swedish and Pakistani satellite piggyback launchings at Jiuquan and Xichang, and Sinosat-1 at Xichang, the remaining satellites were all made in the United States. To secure the safety of US-made satellites, China, as early as December 1988, signed with the Government of the United States the Memorandum of Agreement on Satellite Technology Safeguards. The memorandum laid down strict, almost harsh, requirements for the technology safeguards of US-made satellites to be launched in China. For example:
--The Government of the United States of America shall oversee and monitor implementation of the Technology Control Plan. Access to all equipment and technical data will be controlled on a 24-hour basis by US persons who have received training in security procedures from the Government of the United States of America. Such persons shall control access throughout launch preparations, satellite launch and return of equipment to the United States of America.
--The aircraft carrying the spacecraft, equipment, and technical data, as well as its cargo, can pass through Customs in the People's Republic of China without inspection, and will not be subject to inspection while in the People's Republic of China.
--Unless specifically permitted by persons authorized by the Government of the United States of America, non-US persons will not be allowed into the satellite preparation area for any purpose. If non-US persons are allowed into the satellite preparation area, they must be escorted at all times by US persons.
--For access to equipment by non-US persons, a temporary identification badge will be issued, distinctive in color, which will be marked "visitor". Issuance of these badges will be controlled by US persons.
Since undertaking commercial satellite launching services, the Chinese side has strictly observed the terms of this inter-governmental memorandum. Over a period of more than 10 years, the two sides have held about 100 technical coordination meetings. At no time has the US side ever accused the Chinese side of violating the Agreement on Satellite Technology Safeguards. To secure the implementation of this inter-governmental agreement, delegations authorized by the Chinese and American governments have held annual consultations. Over the 10-odd years, the US side has never raised any questions on the technology safeguards related to the handling of US-made satellites in China. All processes, ranging from the technical coordination meeting before each launch of US-made satellite, the dispatch meeting held every day after the satellite was transported to the launch site to the contacts between technicians of the two sides, the satellites' entrance into Chinese territory, satellite testing at the launch site and the securing of the satellite to the launch vehicle, were all monitored by security officials appointed by the US Government. Every time when the US-made satellite was launched, such security staff accounted for about one-third of the total number of American satellite working staff in China.
Here are some examples to show the US side's strict control over US-made satellites:
--After the American aircraft carrying the satellite(s) arrived at the launch site, it would be overseen by American security personnel. The unloading of the satellite and other equipment from the aircraft and onto road vehicles was handled by the US side. On the way from airport to the launch site, these vehicles were all escorted by American personnel. Even the destruction of the satellite propellant remains after each launch was overseen by the American security staff.
--Before the American satellites entered the satellite test building at the launch site, American security personnel had already checked the building many times. Even the curtains were changed into the thick, heavy and wind-resistant type required by the American side. During the whole launch process, all buildings housing American satellites and equipment were guarded by American security staff, and personnel from the Chinese side were forbidden from approaching secured area. Access to such areas by Chinese personnel should strictly follow the requirements cited in the inter-governmental Memorandum of Agreement on Satellite Technology Safeguards, such as advance approval, registration upon entrance and exit, wearing badges issued by the US side and escorted by American security personnel.
--At the satellite test and filling buildings, control rooms and the operation platform on the launch tower, 18 American-controlled video cameras were installed, conducting 24-hour monitoring of the satellites and test equipment. In the satellite working area of the test building alone, there were four video cameras pointing at the satellites from different angles.
--At each meeting, questions raised or answered by personnel from the US side had first to be approved by American security officials. For example, to calibrate the electronic weighing equipment of the Xichang Satellite Launch Site, the calibration weights should have been prepared by the launch site. When the Chinese side asked what exact calibration weights were needed, the American security officials motioned to American technicians not to answer.
Likewise, since the US side's reinforced monitoring of the US-made satellites would affect the technology safety of China's re-entry vehicle, the Chinese side had to implement round-the-clock monitoring of its rockets as well.
The Cox Report enumerates over 100 "security mistakes during the launch in China", groundlessly assuming that China "probably" used these mistakes to "steal" American satellite secrets. For example, the fact that "the shower outside the satellite filling building doesn't work" was also listed as a "security mistake". In fact, the shower is for personnel who might get contaminated if there was a satellite fuel leakage during the filling procedure. It has nothing to do with satellite "technical secrets".
Even more ridiculous is the claim that "the PRC could accomplish even exploitation that penetrated the interior of the satellite, given two hours of time, without leaving any traces,'' and "there is almost nothing about a US satellite that the PRC could not learn from unrestricted access for 24 hours.'' It is known to all that a satellite is an extremely large, complicated and precise high-tech product. It is composed of tens of thousands of components, thousands of parts and dozens of branch systems, covering knowledge of many subjects. How can it be mastered within a few hours? Just as the old saying goes: If you are out to condemn somebody, you can always trump up a charge.
Mr A.D. Coates, an American Government-appointed security official on many occasions for US-made satellite launches, told the Chinese side after the Aussat-B1 launch failure on March 22, 1992, that "as a security official of the Government of the United States, I can say in a responsible way that the Chinese side has completely observed the Technology Safeguards Agreement between the two governments on the American-made satellites launched from Chinese territory. In the technical coordination meetings in the three years since the Aussat contract was signed, and the joint operation in this campaign, no unauthorized technology transfer has occurred. I am well satisfied with the cooperation between China and the United States, and appreciate all your collaboration." US Defense Technology Security Administration Director Tarbell admitted that he was not aware of any evidence that this access resulted in a technology transfer that would significantly affect America's national security.