- Chinese authorities in Hong Kong were
alarmed recently when they found a MiG-29 Fulcrum jet fighter inside shipping
containers destined for the United States. The MiG-in-a-box was not armed,
did not have working engines and lacked avionics.
- What the Chinese had actually discovered
was a Ukrainian MiG-29 being shipped to a U.S. museum for static display.
The shipper, unable to handle such specialized cargo, simply did not have
the proper paperwork on file to alert the PRC authorities.
- Still, the boys in Beijing were quite
upset and had to confirm the deal with Ukrainian authorities before releasing
the MiG for transport to America.
- This episode stands in stark contrast
to the reaction that Chinese authorities had when an armed air-to-air missile
was found inside a jetliner full of passengers.
- In 1996, Hong Kong Customs officials
intercepted an AA-11 ARCHER air-to-air missile being shipped by the China
National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation, or CATIC
aboard a commercial air carrier full of paying customers, Dragonair.
- China International Trade and Investment
Company (CITIC), the most powerful and visible PRC-controlled conglomerate,
then owned Dragonair along with the Civil Aviation Administration of China
(CAAC) and Indonesian billionaire Moctar Riady.
- Unlike the MiG incident, the missile
was considered an active and dangerous weapon. The missile was intentionally
mislabeled in its box as machine parts bound for Israel. The weapon was
fully operational and carried a live warhead.
- The Chinese shipper CATIC
is also a company known to be under the control of the Chinese military
and has frequently been cited for export violations.
- The missile-in-a-box incident violated
several international laws against the transport of live munitions with
live passengers. Previous illegal arms shipments on passenger planes have
had disastrous results. For example, a South African shipment of artillery
shells stashed in the belly of a Boeing 747 detonated over the Indian Ocean,
killing everyone on board.
- Still, Chinese authorities did not apologize
or even acknowledge the missile-in-a-box incident despite the serious consequences.
- Beijing Arming Terrorists
- This is not the first time that Chinese
authorities have threatened airline security. China has been linked to
previous attempts to smuggle man-portable anti-aircraft missiles into the
- In 2005, two men were indicted in Los
Angeles on charges of attempting to illegally import Chinese-made missiles
into the United States. Chao Tung Wu, 51, of La Puente, Calif., and Yi
Qing Chen, 41, of Rosemead, Calif., were charged with conspiracy to import
Chinese-made surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
- Law enforcement officials said Wu and
Chen were caught in a sting developed out of the large-scale federal investigation
in Los Angeles known as "Smoking Dragon." Wu and Chen were charged
with conspiracy to import Chinese-made "Qianwei-2" anti-aircraft
missiles and launchers.
- The "Qianwei[Advance Guard]-2"
missile is capable of destroying civilian airliners and military aircraft.
According to the Chinese developers, the "Qianwei-2" is the world's
most effective one-man shoulder-launched ultra-low-altitude air defense
missile, surpassing the U.S. "Stinger" and the French "Mistral"
- The conspiracy involved a deal between
an undercover U.S. federal agent and Wu and Chen, along with officials
at the Xinshidai Corporation, a Chinese state-owned weapons maker, and
an un-named Chinese general.
- Law enforcement officials confirmed that
the missile deal involved unindicted co-conspirators in China, forged papers
from a foreign defense ministry, and illegal payoffs to the relative of
a foreign president, who was not identified.
- U.S. law enforcement officials identified
the missile manufacturer as the Xinshidai Group, a conglomerate of Chinese
state-run manufacturers that is currently under sanction by the U.S. government
for arms sales to Iran.
- According to the Defense Intelligence
Agency, Xinshidai is actually a state-owned arms maker controlled by the
Chinese People's Liberation Army.
- During the alleged conspiracy, Wu and
Chen referred the undercover agent to a foreign "general" with
whom the undercover agent had contact regarding the purchase of weapons.
The indictment further alleges that Wu sold the undercover agent a bogus
passport to assist him in negotiating overseas the purchase of the weapons.
- After Wu and Chen were arrested during
the takedown of Smoking Dragon, the undercover agent had additional contacts
with a foreign individual who said he wanted to complete the weapons deal
even without Wu or Chen.
- The Bush administration refused to identify
the foreign individual, the Chinese General or the third country involved
in the sting. Yet the undercover agent involved noted that he clearly stated
that he intended to purchase the missiles for terrorist operations inside
the United States against civilian airliners.
- Counterfeit Money
- The missile sting added a further complication
on the Smoking Dragon operation. Smoking Dragon uncovered an entire network
of operatives here in the U.S. who are involved in smuggling and counterfeit
$100 bills from North Korea.
- It is estimated that the counterfeit
currency alone adds over $200 million a year to the pocket of Kim Jong-il,
the crackpot dictator of North Korea. The real spin behind the sting was
that Kim Jong-il is peddling his fake $100 bills through Chinese banks.
- One such bank was identified as the Bank
of China, a financial institution controlled and operated by the communist
central government in partnership with Chinese billionaire Li Ka-Shing.
- Again, the Bush administration has refused
to pursue the Bank of China connection to the top of Beijing's leadership
chain. Instead, the Bush administration elected to concentrate on the North
Korean end of the counterfeit ring and allow Bank of China to seek U.S.
- According to a Wall Street Journal article
by Glenn Simpson, Gordon Fairclough and Jay Solomon, former "North
Korean traders and financiers who have fled their country say North Korean
banks and commercial enterprises must rely on foreign banks, especially
Bank of China, to conduct nearly all international transactions."
- "Every North Korean bank has accounts
at the Bank of China" through which money is moved, said one former
North Korean businessman.
- Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled
to arrive in Washington on April 20. Perhaps he can explain how a Chinese
general, a major PLA arms firm and a state-owned Chinese bank could become
involved in a terrorist plot to destroy American airliners.
- Of course, Hu could also pay for the
entire trip with fake $100 bills.