Dual-use exports to China

As some members of Congress express concern over the growing Sino—US trade imbalance and are threatening more ill—conceived protectionist policies, President Bush has quietly authorized the export of certain sensitive equipment for a Chinese railroad project that could also be used by the Chinese military. 

While many Americans getting ready for the holiday season, the President was studying the technical uses of accelerometers, the instruments used in many machines and vehicles to track speed. 

America's economy relies on the export of high—tech machines, like accelerometers and Boeing aircraft, to slightly offset its huge deficit in labor—intensive products, like clothing and other holiday items often found under the Christmas tree.

On December 17th, the Agence France Presse reported:

Bush told Congress that the export of 36 accelerometers to China's Ministry of Railways for use in a railroad track geometry measuring system "is not detrimental to the US space industry," the White House said in a statement.

Bush said "the material and equipment, including any indirect technical benefit that could be derived from such export, will not measurably improve the missile or space launch capabilities" of China.


Under American law, the President is required to give clearance for such dual—use exports.   These high—tech exports involve three thorny political challenges that require Washington to create priorities in its 'complex relationship' with the increasingly assertive Asian power.

First, there are wide—ranging national security implications.  Many conservatives are rightfully concerned about China's military—buildup in an East Asian region home to thousands of American service personnel.  A brief scan of the region paints a gloomy picture. 

With Taiwann President Chen Shui—bian's tendency of expressing hints about declaring formal independence in Taipei in recent years, the sensitive issue of Taiwan shows little sign of disappearing any time soon.  

Over in Tokyo the situation is not much better, where the subordinates of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi are throwing verbal jabs toward Beijing on a weekly basis. A couple of days ago, Japan's hawkish Foreign Minister Taro Aso created quite a diplomatic stir by saying, 'China is starting to become a considerable threat."

Add into the mix an unpredictable North Korean regime, to which Beijing provides desperately needed food and energy, and you can easily imagine one big, nasty showdown someday.   

Second, Beijing is likely to use its manned space program to help achieve its military ambitions.  Earlier this year two Chinese taikonaunts returned home to a hero's welcome.  While NASA hopes to return to the moon by the year 2018, the Chinese are pushing for 2017. 

Get ready for another space race.

Third, there is an ongoing debate over the trade numbers.  With some degree of truth, Beijing continues to argue that Washington's national security concerns limit America's high—tech exports to the Middle Kingdom.

Adding fuel to the economic rivalry, Beijing announced on December 20, that government statisticians revised the mainland's GDP figures upward, by around 20%. The revision means China's output actually totals $1.74 trillion, about $300 billion more than previously thought.

And in a sign of things to come, China has now become a net exporter of cars and trucks for the first time.   
    
America will continue to face many difficult choices in the decades to come with China, but instead of trying to isolate Beijing and limit its trade and
investment.  

Hopefully a few more Washington insiders will conclude that its in our best long—term interests to promote more cooperation and keep China moving on a path toward greater peace and prosperity.

As some members of Congress express concern over the growing Sino—US trade imbalance and are threatening more ill—conceived protectionist policies, President Bush has quietly authorized the export of certain sensitive equipment for a Chinese railroad project that could also be used by the Chinese military. 

While many Americans getting ready for the holiday season, the President was studying the technical uses of accelerometers, the instruments used in many machines and vehicles to track speed. 

America's economy relies on the export of high—tech machines, like accelerometers and Boeing aircraft, to slightly offset its huge deficit in labor—intensive products, like clothing and other holiday items often found under the Christmas tree.

On December 17th, the Agence France Presse reported:

Bush told Congress that the export of 36 accelerometers to China's Ministry of Railways for use in a railroad track geometry measuring system "is not detrimental to the US space industry," the White House said in a statement.

Bush said "the material and equipment, including any indirect technical benefit that could be derived from such export, will not measurably improve the missile or space launch capabilities" of China.


Under American law, the President is required to give clearance for such dual—use exports.   These high—tech exports involve three thorny political challenges that require Washington to create priorities in its 'complex relationship' with the increasingly assertive Asian power.

First, there are wide—ranging national security implications.  Many conservatives are rightfully concerned about China's military—buildup in an East Asian region home to thousands of American service personnel.  A brief scan of the region paints a gloomy picture. 

With Taiwann President Chen Shui—bian's tendency of expressing hints about declaring formal independence in Taipei in recent years, the sensitive issue of Taiwan shows little sign of disappearing any time soon.  

Over in Tokyo the situation is not much better, where the subordinates of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi are throwing verbal jabs toward Beijing on a weekly basis. A couple of days ago, Japan's hawkish Foreign Minister Taro Aso created quite a diplomatic stir by saying, 'China is starting to become a considerable threat."

Add into the mix an unpredictable North Korean regime, to which Beijing provides desperately needed food and energy, and you can easily imagine one big, nasty showdown someday.   

Second, Beijing is likely to use its manned space program to help achieve its military ambitions.  Earlier this year two Chinese taikonaunts returned home to a hero's welcome.  While NASA hopes to return to the moon by the year 2018, the Chinese are pushing for 2017. 

Get ready for another space race.

Third, there is an ongoing debate over the trade numbers.  With some degree of truth, Beijing continues to argue that Washington's national security concerns limit America's high—tech exports to the Middle Kingdom.

Adding fuel to the economic rivalry, Beijing announced on December 20, that government statisticians revised the mainland's GDP figures upward, by around 20%. The revision means China's output actually totals $1.74 trillion, about $300 billion more than previously thought.

And in a sign of things to come, China has now become a net exporter of cars and trucks for the first time.   
    
America will continue to face many difficult choices in the decades to come with China, but instead of trying to isolate Beijing and limit its trade and
investment.  

Hopefully a few more Washington insiders will conclude that its in our best long—term interests to promote more cooperation and keep China moving on a path toward greater peace and prosperity.