June 11, 2006


Sabotage fear as China's secret weapon crashes (Michael Sheridan, June 12, 2006, The Australian)

A DULL boom shook the misty bamboo forests of Guangde county, 200km southwest of Shanghai, last Sunday week and a plume of smoke rose in the sky.

Within 24 hours, China admitted that a "military aircraft" had crashed, that President Hu Jintao had ordered an investigation and that state honours would be bestowed on the victims.

Security teams sealed off the area, carting away the charred remains of 40 people and collecting wreckage with painstaking care. It looked like a routine military accident.

In fact, the crash would reverberate through Washington and Tel Aviv, revealing details of a covert Chinese espionage effort to copy Israeli technology in an attempt to match the US in any future air and sea battle.

The first clues were given by two Chinese-controlled newspapers in Hong Kong, Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po. On Monday, they printed articles disclosing that the plane was a Chinese version of the formidable Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft flown by the US to manage air, sea and land battles.

They indicated it was a Russian Ilyushin cargo jet, rebuilt to house a conspicuous array of radars and codenamed KJ-2000. The doomed flight, they implied, had been a test mission.

The disaster robbed China of 35 of its best electronic warfare technicians, according to sources in Hong Kong. There were also five crew on board.

With memories fresh in Beijing that a Boeing 767 bought for the use of former president Jiang Zemin was found to be riddled with eavesdropping devices, there were suspicions of sabotage.

The Communist Party showed how seriously it took the crash by entrusting the inquiry to Guo Boxiong, vice-chairman of its central military commission, who handles sensitive security matters.

It was without question a calamity for the Chinese military. But for the Americans, who lost a spy plane forced down by a Chinese interceptor jet in 2000, it was not a cause for sincere mourning.

It was most likely just the inevitable incompetence of a communist regime, but it would be nice if we had intelligence services competent enough to spread the rumor we caused it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 11, 2006 9:35 PM

From the article: For as long as the Chinese have tried to buy, steal or copy high-grade military technology -- at least since the early 1990s -- the CIA and the White House have sought to frustrate them.

Or, you know, at least get some campaign donations out of them.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 11, 2006 11:27 PM

"it would be nice if we had intelligence services competent enough to spread the rumor we caused it", it would be nicer to spread the rumor that the sabotage is to avenge those Tianmen massacre victims. It takes almost twenty years, but families remember.

Posted by: ic at June 12, 2006 2:34 AM

I think the point here is that the ChiComs imitate but cannot invent...35 of "their best electronic warfare technicians" can't come up with anything on their own.

Posted by: Bartman at June 12, 2006 8:26 AM

No matter the brilliance of the individual, without intellectual freedom no creativity can occur.

Posted by: erp at June 12, 2006 9:29 AM


It also shows the incompetence of the ChiComs, that they would put their best techs on a test flight of an experimental aircraft.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at June 12, 2006 10:23 AM

No, the best option would be to plant evidence of a "CIA bribe" that their always-paranoid counter-espionage types would use to ruin the career and life of one or more patriotic Chinese Communist bigwigs. Hitler's spies did that to Stalin to great effect.

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 12, 2006 4:22 PM