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China Dismisses Charge it Bought US Rocket Technology - 2003-01-07

Beijing says allegations that China bought rocket technology from U.S. companies are false and "laughable."

Zhang Qiyue, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, denies allegations that two American companies broke U.S. law by sharing sensitive space technology with China. Ms. Zhang told reporters that China did not need such help and that the allegations were "not consistent with reality."

Late last month, the U.S. State Department accused aerospace companies Hughes and Boeing of passing information to Beijing during the 1990s that could have helped China fine-tune its missiles. Doing so violates U.S. laws on weapon and technology exports.

According to the charges, the companies gave the information to China after two of its rockets failed after launch, destroying American-made satellites.

The two companies could face millions of dollars in fines in the case but have denied breaking any laws. Boeing acquired Hughes' space operations in 2000 and says any violations happened before that acquisition.

The scientist who designed China's powerful "Long March" rocket says the country's space program was developed domestically, without help from overseas. Wang Decheng told Chinese media the charges showed the Americans "completely lack an understanding of China's space technology."

The issue surfaced just as China was launching the fourth in a series of space capsules that it says are dress rehearsals for a manned space launch later this year.