- 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
- ``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