Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is supporting a bid by General Electric to export jobs and nuclear technology to China by seeking assurances from Beijing that it will not steal or transfer valuable reactor technology.
Clinton’s support for a future deal with GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a Wilmington, N.C., company, to make reactor vessels in China for a nuclear plant it hopes to build in India was disclosed in a cable sent Nov. 21 to the United States Embassy in Beijing.
The cable directs embassy officials to seek Beijing’s assurances that GE-Hitachi nuclear technology would not be transferred to other states or stolen, as outlined under the terms of a 2003 U.S.-China agreement on nuclear technology cooperation.
Disclosure of the Obama administration’s support for GE-Hitachi’s bid to manufacture nuclear goods in China comes as GE’s chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, continues to head the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which advises President Barack Obama on ways to improve the nation’s economy and create jobs.
GE also came under fire last year from Pentagon technology security officials over the company’s joint venture with the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) over concerns China would covertly obtain U.S. jet avionics technology that could bolster its growing force of advanced jets.
GE-Hitachi builds advanced nuclear reactors and wants China First Heavy Industries Group, a state-run Chinese company that is directly involved in Chinese nuclear weapons production, to build major components. According to the cable, GE-Hitachi is considering whether China First Heavy Industries would build reactor pressure vessels—special high-strength tanks that are key reactor components.
China has been identified by the CIA and Congress as a major proliferator of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and also is among the most aggressive states engaged in economic espionage.
China was a major supplier of nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan, providing Islamabad with both warhead design and nuclear material production technology and equipment.
U.S. intelligence reports from earlier this year revealed that China is covertly helping Pakistan modernize its nuclear facilities and nuclear weapons, including the design of a new warhead.
The intelligence reports on proliferation so far have been ignored by Obama administration policymakers who have suppressed the intelligence to avoid upsetting both China and Pakistan.
Iran also has received nuclear goods from China.
Former State Department intelligence analyst John Tkacik said China has a reputation for stealing advanced technology like the kind that would be involved in a GE-Hitachi deal with China.
“Stealing foreign technology and intellectual property is a standard business model for virtually all Chinese companies, including the biggest,” Tkacik said.
“China’s biggest telecom firm, Huawei, stole Cisco Systems’ designs and software for routers, built pirated knockoffs, and now competes worldwide with Cisco,” he added.
Also, China’s largest wind power firm stole designs and software from American Semiconductor and then refused to pay the U.S. high tech firm money that it owed, prompting American Semiconductor into a financial crisis that cost thousands of American jobs, Tkacik said.
“This happens all the time, but Washington has never retaliated effectively,” he said.
According to the cable, Clinton was seeking assurances that China would not retransfer U.S. nuclear technology under a September 2003 agreement between the United States and China that stipulated U.S. nuclear technology would not be retransferred by China to other countries without prior U.S. approval.
Well, so long as they promise not to steal the technology, it should be okay to send the jobs along with the technology to a Chinese company. We wouldn’t want to stand in the way of Jeffrey Immelt’s GE from making a boatload of money.