US Rocket Scientist
Pledged "Everything In
Our Power" To Help China
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The scientist at the center of a probe into whether American companies improperly helped China improve its rockets told the Chinese he would do everything he could to make their rockets the most reliable in the industry, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
Scientist Wah Lim, a senior vice president and engineer at a unit of Loral Space and Communications, made the statement in a letter to China Aerospace Corp. in April 1996, two weeks before a Loral technical review was provided to the Chinese company without U.S. government approval and against Loral policies, the newspaper said.
Federal officials are investigating whether the review, an analysis of a Chinese rocket launch failure that destroyed a Loral satellite, violated U.S. export control laws and damaged national security by giving the Chinese information that would enable them to improve their missile program. The Times printed a text of the letter from Lim to Liu Jiyuan, chairman of China Aerospace, but did not say how it obtained the document.
``We at Space Systems/Loral would like China Great Wall to be a strong supplier of launch services and we will do everything in our power to help you,'' Lim wrote. Lim, now an executive at Hughes Space and Communications Co. in southern California, is a central figure in the Justice Department's criminal investigation into whether Loral and Hughes, whose scientists also worked on the review, illegally transmitted information to China that may have helped its missile program, the Times said.
The Times said a confidential letter from Loral's lawyers to the State Department in June 1996 acknowledged that the company should have asked the State Department to approve the review activities. But the letter said it was not clear there was any violation of law because of the transfer of technical data to the Chinese.
The Times said the letter acknowledged that the issue of whether illegal aid was given to the Chinese in the ``testing, manufacture or repair'' of the rocket ``is more problematic.'' Lim declined to be interviewed by the Times but his lawyer, George Newhouse, was quoted by the newspaper as saying Lim was innocent of any wrongdoing.
The Justice Department is also investigating whether campaign donations influenced President Clinton's decision to allow satellite technology exports to China. A Democratic fund-raiser has alleged that that $100,000 he gave to Democrats in 1996 was from China's People's Liberation Army.

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