Chinese Military Delegation Gains Access to Sensitive U.S. Facilities

5 Jul

Below is a statement from Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, criticizing the Defense Department’s decision to allow a high-level delegation of Chinese military personnel that was lead by General Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.   The background on the visit explains:

BACKGROUND:  High-level U.S.-Chinese military exchanges were cut off by Beijing in 2010 in response to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to strengthen its defenses against a Chinese attack.  This visit includes the Chinese Chief of Staff and a delegation of two dozen high-ranking officers whose itinerary includes Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia, Fort Stewart in Georgia, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California.

The statement from Ros-Lehtinen reads as follows:

(WASHINGTON) U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today criticized the Department of Defense for allowing Chinese military officials to visit sensitive U.S. facilities as part of an effort to improve U.S. and Chinese military-to-military relations.

“I am very concerned that high-ranking Chinese military officials are being given access to sensitive U.S. military facilities as part of an effort to reestablish U.S.-Chinese military-to-military relations.  This raises a number of questions about the policies in place to safeguard U.S. national  security-related information and the foreign policy implications of the Administration’s response to Chinese actions against U.S. interests and allies.

“The visit to Nellis Air Force Base is especially troubling, given its key role in our defenses against cyberwarfare and other high-tech threats.  China is actively engaged in cyber attacks against the U.S., including massive assaults on U.S. government and civilian networks alike, especially those of the Department of Defense.  There can be no doubt that every scrap of information this expert delegation collects will be used against us.

“Congress must immediately review existing prohibitions against giving Chinese officials access to sensitive information, and determine if they need to be strengthened.  “The Chinese military openly regards the United States as an enemy.  We should not undermine our own security by thinking we can make friends with self-proclaimed adversaries with hospitality and open arms.”

Take all the pretty pictures you want!

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission points out that the legislation that was relevant to the Chinese delegation’s visit include The Taiwan Relations Act, which was passed in 1979, and The FY2000 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which prohibits the Secretary of Defense from authorizing mil-to-mil contact with the PLA if that contact would “create a national security risk due to an inappropriate exposure” of the PLA to 12 operational areas.  According to the USCC backgrounder, in the late 1990s a visiting Chinese military officer allegedly  learned about a vulnerability of U.S. aircraft carriers from a conversation that he had with U.S. Navy personnel, and the PLA then used that information to acquire weapons to exploit this weakness. The expression “loose lips sink ships” is quite apt in this situation.

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