Commentary: U.S. Accusation against China over Space-tech Spying Comes out of Thin Air
   2012-04-21 19:32:25    Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhangjin
by Zhu Lei

A U.S. accusation that the progress China has made in space exploration, particularly satellites, should be partially attributed to espionage involving American technology is utterly groundless, irresponsible and detrimental to bilateral relations.

A Pentagon report released Wednesday recommended loosening U.S. export controls to international clients on "hundreds of thousands" of items used to build communications satellites and remote sensing equipment.

However, the report stubbornly recommended maintaining or even tightening controls on those exports to particular countries such as China and Iran, accusing China of spying to obtain space technology.

The accusation, first of all, is an underestimation of China's ability to independently explore space. The Chinese are known for their hard work and diligence in space technology and other high-tech fields. That's already been long proven by China's independent development of its first man-made satellite in 1970.

With the successful launch of Dong Fang Hong I on April 24, 1970, China, amidst a time of Cold War confrontation and isolation, became the fifth country, after the Soviet Union, the United States, France and Japan, to independently put a satellite into space.

The successful launch of Shen Zhou 5 in 2003 made China the third country to independently send a human being into space. China's space history speaks volumes about the fact that any restrictions against China's space exploration will end in vain.

The U.S. accusation of skullduggery also is an underestimation of its own ability to keep secrets. The United States is well known for possessing the widest and most advanced secrecy network in the world. All U.S. laboratories have strict security measures in place to keep their work secret.

The accusation is also a reminder of the notorious case against Chinese-American scientist Wen Ho Lee. The scientist was charged in 1999 with stealing secrets to leak to China from the Los Alamos National Laboratory -- the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Lee spent nine months in solitary confinement before authorities dropped all charges against him except for a minor face-saving count, and the judge had to apologize to him in court.

The United States should learn from the Lee case and stop making groundless accusations against China.

Meanwhile, America's insistence on its two-decade-old satellite export restrictions against China runs counter to the consensus reached between the two heads of state on enhancing space cooperation, and would be harmful for overall bilateral ties.

The latest recommendation for making American space technology available on the global market obviously is aimed at creating a more competitive and profitable U.S. space industry amidst a tightened federal budget.

The United States has grumbled about its huge trade deficit with China, while Beijing, for its part, has repeated its willingness to buy American high-tech products.

So why should the United States distrustfully shut the space-tech door to China and miss a possible win-win situation?

It is a plain fact that loosening export controls to China, particularly on high-tech products, could earn the United States a large pile of greenbacks and considerably reduce its trade deficit.

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