- The Chinese army operates over 2,000 front companies
inside the United States. Newly declassified documents from the Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) show that China United Airlines is a one such
- China United Airlines is a most curious business. A Chinese
air force general heads China United. China United aircraft also double
as troop transports for the People's Liberation Army.
- Yet documents obtained from the Defense Intelligence
Agency show that China United is allowed to do business inside the U.S.
- The newly declassified documents from the Defense Intelligence
Agency had the names of DIA agents withheld for national security reasons.
In addition, a series of Commerce Department computer inquiries into the
DIA records on China United Airlines also had sections deleted to protect
"personal information in law enforcement records."
- What the declassified documents do show is that the Commerce
Department was informed in 1994 that China United Airlines is actually
owned by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
- "China United Airlines (CUA) is a commercial entity
of the PLA Air Force," states a 1994 report on the Chinese military
issued by Lt. Col. Dennis Blasko, former U.S. defense attaché to
Beijing. Blasko's report on Chinese military industries was obtained by
a lawsuit against the Commerce Department in 1999.
- "The major enterprise subordinate to the PLA Air
Force is the China Lantian [Blue Sky] Industrial Corp," wrote Col.
Blasko. "Also affiliated to Lantian is the Tian Ma [Sky Horse] Brand
of vehicles and vehicle repair parts and facilities."
- The newly declassified DIA documents noted that in 1995
the DIA listed China United Airlines as an enterprise "subordinate
to the PLA Air Force." In addition, the DIA documents added Tianma
Enterprises and China Anda Aviation as also being "subordinate to
the PLA Air Force."
- Selling Airplanes to the Chinese Air Force
- Despite the clear lines of Chinese military ownership,
the Clinton administration approved the sale of 10 American-made airliners
to China United in 2000. The 10 Boeing 737 airliners are now officially
listed as part of the People's Liberation Army Air Force. The Boeing jets
are being used as troop transports, flying PLA officers into and out of
remote military airbases in western China.
- According to statements published by China United, the
PLA Air Force-owned airline also operates a small fleet of Russian-made
Ilyushin IL-76 jet transports. The IL-76 four-engine jet is the front-line
PLAAF military transport, and the Chinese civil version is frequently armed
with two 23 mm cannons located in a tail turret.
- In 2000, the China United Airlines IL-76 transports dropped
paratroopers, tanks and artillery directly onto the battlefield during
the fall Chinese military exercises.
- "Both Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft were
used to move a division of the 15th Airborne Army to Beijing for use in
Tiananmen Square," said Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the Jamestown
- "If PLA commandos capture a Taiwan airfield, there
will be scores of U.S.-made transports bringing in troops and weapons to
make it secure," stated Fisher.
- "There are several PRC airlines that are either
owned or linked to the PLAAF [People's Liberation Army Air Force],"
- "They mostly fly Boeing craft, though some Russian
airliners as well. I assume that most airliners in PRC airlines are subject
to mobilization if necessary."
- It is a fact that former President George Bush (Sr.)
approved the sale of military transport aircraft to China, including several
Lockheed C-130 heavy lift transport aircraft that were purchased by Air
China, an airline 100 percent owned by the communist government. The C-130
Hercules is currently used by the U.S. Air Force as a heavy transport
plane and has recently been used in Afghanistan as an aerial gunship.
- Jiang Zemin's Airplane
- The Clinton administration also approved the sale of
a used Delta Airlines Boeing 767 to China United. The Boeing 767 was intended
to become Chinese President Jiang Zemin's personal plane. The 767 was refitted
at a Texas airport with sophisticated American-made electronics, including
satellite communications and navigation systems.
- Ironically, the aircraft was also fitted with a series
of covert eavesdropping devices, including bugs placed inside President
Jiang's airborne bedroom, bathroom and secure telephone systems.
- The 767-bugging incident led to the arrest of China United
head, Maj. Gen. Liu Taichi. Liu is the air force officer in charge of air
travel for Chinese leaders and the chairman of China United Airlines,
a military-owned commercial airline that buys the leadership's planes.
- The youngest son of a revolutionary marshal, Gen. Liu
is also the deputy head of the Chinese Army Air Force equipment department.
Lui often traveled to the United States as a civilian, using his position
at China United as a cover. He also became a familiar face inside U.S.
aviation companies such as Boeing. During the Clinton years, Gen. Liu
bought six Boeing planes for use as VIP aircraft.
- "He [Gen. Liu] was one of Boeing's best customers,"
said a former business associate of the PLAAF commander in a recent article
published by the Wall Street Journal.
- The Washington Times reported that President Jiang suspected
former Chinese Premier Li Peng was behind the bugging incident because
of corruption charges against Li's wife and children. Later, during a
press conference in Macao, Li Peng disputed reports that he was behind
the bugging of Jiang's airplane.
- Gen. Liu's arrest reinforced reports from intelligence
sources that the U.S. had little if anything to do with the eavesdropping
devices found on Jiang's airplane. Instead of publicly blaming the United
States for the bugging incident, Chinese authorities have quietly tried
to cover up the entire affair.
- China United Spy Plane
- Yet Gen. Liu's covert activities were not limited strictly
to U.S.-made aircraft. For example, China United Airlines aircraft B-4138
is a Russian-made TU-154M three-engine airliner that flies under an international
civilian number as a passenger plane.
- The markings on B-4138 include large black block letters
and the CUA symbol on its tail.
- China United flight B-4138 is actually a Chinese spy
plane. U.S. Defense analysts confirmed that the so-called civil aircraft
is a Chinese air force spy plane equipped with sophisticated radar and
communications equipment. The modified airliner is packed with military
communications gear and has a huge radar dome on the bottom of the aircraft.
- "The Tu-154M is indeed from China United,"
stated Richard Fisher.
- "It is equipped with a new Synthetic Aperture Radar
[SAR] system," noted Fisher, pointing out the characteristic tub-like
radar dome that dominates the lower half of the Chinese spy plane.
- "This Tu-154M is likely involved in research for
the development of SAR systems that can be used in a similar fashion to
the U.S. JSTARS, which provided unprecedented battlefield awareness to
U.S. commanders in the Gulf War. For the PLA, this and future SAR aircraft
will help to manage military operations over Taiwan and to find critical
targets for air and missile strikes," concluded Fisher.