Wolf says space tech­nol­ogy is shared too freely with China

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY STEPHEN LEVY

A se­nior House Repub­li­can wants to hold the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­count­able for what he says are vi­o­la­tions of law lim­it­ing the shar­ing of space tech­nol­ogy with China.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, chair­man of the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee on Com­merce, Jus­tice, Science and re­lated agen­cies, said in an in­ter­view that a law passed in April re­stricts tech­nol­ogy-shar­ing with China fol­low­ing at­tempts by Chinese hack­ers to steal gov­ern­ment se­crets.

“They can’t just flout the law,” Mr. Wolf, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can, said of the ad­min­is­tra­tion. “We see what China’s do­ing.”

In re­sponse, Mr. Wolf said the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee’s fis­cal 2012 Com­merce-Jus­tice-Science spend­ing bill passed on July 13 con­tains pro­vi­sions that would cut funds for the White House Of­fice of Science and Tech­nol­ogy Pol­icy (OSTP) by 55 per­cent, from $6.6 mil­lion to $3 mil­lion.

Asked about the fund­ing cuts, OSTP spokesman Rick Weiss said the White House will work with Congress to de­velop the bill be­fore it reaches the pres­i­dent’s desk. “This is the first of many steps in a bud­get process that will play out over the course of the next sev­eral months,” he said.

The com­mit­tee left the Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space from co­op­er­at­ing with Chinese cor­po­ra­tions.

“The lan­guage is very clear, and was signed by the pres­i­dent,” Mr. Wolf said. “It says what they’re not sup­posed to do.”

OSTP Di­rec­tor John Hol­dren told the sub­com­mit­tee that the pro­hi­bi­tion on ac­tiv­ity be­tween his of­fice and Chinese com­pa­nies was not fully con­sti­tu­tional, and

“They can’t just flout the law,” Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can, said of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. “We see what China’s do­ing.”

Ad­min­is­tra­tion Agency’s bud­get largely in­tact, de­spite con­cerns about co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the space agency and its Chinese coun­ter­part.

Mr. Wolf, whose sub­com­mit­tee funds both OSTP and NASA, among other gov­ern­ment agen­cies, said that the tech­nol­ogy of­fice had vi­o­lated a pro­vi­sion of the April bud­get com­pro­mise leg­is­la­tion that blocked OSTP would not be ob­served when it conflicts with the pres­i­dent’s ne­go­ti­at­ing power.

“The pro­hi­bi­tion should not be read as pro­hibit­ing in­ter­ac­tions that are part of the pres­i­dent’s au­thor­ity to con­duct ne­go­ti­a­tions,” Mr. Hol­dren said dur­ing a sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing July 7. “We will be look­ing at that on a case-by-case ba­sis.”

The pro­vi­sion, first in­tro­duced in a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion fund­ing law passed in April as part of the bud­get com­pro­mise, and in­cluded in the 2012 spend­ing bill, stated that no NASA or OSTP funds can be used “to de­velop, de­sign, plan, pro­mul­gate, im­ple­ment or ex­e­cute a bi­lat­eral pol­icy, pro­gram, or­der, or con­tract of any kind to par­tic­i­pate, col­lab­o­rate, or co­or­di­nate bi­lat­er­ally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned com­pany.”

The leg­is­la­tion re­port said the cut­off was the re­sult of the “un­abated threat posed to United States in­ter­est by China.” It noted that Chinese at­tempts to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion from gov­ern­ment agen­cies and pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions had made Chinese firms “un­suit­able part­ners for Amer­i­can space and science ini- tia­tives.”

The Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee’s re­port bol­sters Mr. Wolf’s charge that OSTP vi­o­lated the law.

“OSTP has cho­sen to dis­re­gard a strong and un­am­bigu­ous leg­isla­tive pro­hi­bi­tion on bi­lat­eral en­gage­ment with China or Chinese-owned com­pa­nies,” the re­port said. “OSTP’s be­hav­ior demon­strates a lack of re­spect for the pol­icy and over­sight roles of the Congress.”

Mr. Wolf also said Mr. Hol­dren’s three-week trip to China was an ap­par­ent vi­o­la­tion of the pro­vi­sion.

The Vir­ginia con­gress­man pre­vi­ously crit­i­cized NASA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Charles F. Bolden Jr. for vis­it­ing China in a bid to co­op­er­ate on joint space projects. China’s mil­i­tary, the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, runs the Chinese space pro­gram and has sought to steal state se­crets from the United States mul­ti­ple times, he said.

“The U.S. has no busi­ness co­op­er­at­ing with the PLA to help de­velop its space pro­gram,” he said in May.

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