Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Branson Prohibits Chinese from Spaceship Due to Espionage Fears

Posted by w_thames_the_d on August 10, 2014

Richard Branson is barring Chinese from riding on his orbital ship due to fear rhey will steal its secrets. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Chinese citizens cannot ride on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space flights due to American fears of espionage (1), yet are welcome to our research institutes despite allegations (2) of many of them being spies (3).

Sir Richard Branson is filling seats for his new space orbiter but Chinese nationals need not apply. The rockets powering his ship have dual use technology, i.e. both civilian and military applications and are protected by US law. As the craft will be launched from America, it must follow the rules. Out of fear that Chinese will board the orbiter and steal its secrets, they are being prohibited from entering the craft (4).

In light of how aggressively Chinese nationals (5) and immigrants have pursued theft of American secrets, the rule makes sense. What is illogical, however, is how erratic US policy is when it comes to dealing with Chinese espionage/theft.

Consider that Chinese nationals cannot be trusted to sit in an aircraft orbiting the earth, but can be put in charge of the administration of dual use military technology in our universities. In addition, if the China spy threat in American universities is so disconcerting, as the FBI has said, then why has the University of Michigan (UM) partnered with a Chinese college which works with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) hackers?


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