Fri, Nov 04, 2011 - Page 7 News List

US lawmakers slam White House-China space cooperation

AFP, Washington

Two US congressmen blasted the White House and NASA on Wednesday for “dangerous” cooperation with China, saying technology transfer has greatly enhanced Beijing’s space and missile capability.

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher warned of a ballooning national security threat brought about by what he described as the “overreach” of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which was accused of violating legislation aimed at curtailing US-China cooperation.

“China has aggressively sought our technologies through legal and illegal methods for decades,” Rohrabacher, chair of the House foreign affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations, told a hearing.

Republican Frank Wolf, a major critic of Beijing’s human rights policy, told the hearing he was “very troubled with this administration’s apparent eagerness to work with China on its space program and willingness to share other sensitive technologies.”

He said the considerable US advantage in space has been eroding because of the surprisingly rapid development of China’s space program.

Last month, the US Government Accountability Office determined that OSTP violated a statute that prohibits OSTP and NASA from using federal funds for bilateral engagements with China.

OSTP director John Holdren testified that he was told by the Justice Department that the office’s activities fell under the president’s executive authority to conduct foreign diplomacy, and that the statute therefore did not apply to OSTP.

“I certainly don’t dispute technology transfer to China that we did not wish and do not welcome,” Holdren said, citing likely leaks from private firms doing business with the Asian giant.

However, he defended the scientific engagement with China through several US administrations, saying the cooperation helps in the “effort to get China to change the aspects of its conduct that we oppose,” such as on human rights or restrictions to the Chinese market.

Wolf sharply disagreed.

“Our engagement with China has not only empowered the government, failed to change their political system and undermined our economic security, it has fueled China’s military apparatus,” he said, describing China’s space program as “led by the People’s Liberation Army.”

Meanwhile, the US could deny senior Chinese officials, notably those involved in Beijing’s “one child” policy, entry to US soil under a bill to be advanced on Wednesday by a key congressional panel.

Republican Representative Chris Smith, a frequent and fierce critic of China’s human rights record, authored the legislation going before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

The panel’s chairman, Republican Representative Elton Gallegly, said the bill served notice to “those in the Chinese government who commit or sanction abuses” that “their actions will not be tolerated by the United States.”

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