The Report of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, commonly known as the Cox Report after Representative Christopher Cox, is a classified
Classified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular groups of persons. A formal security clearance is required to handle classified documents or access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation...
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...
The term document has multiple meanings in ordinary language and in scholarship. WordNet 3.1. lists four meanings :* document, written document, papers...
reporting on the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...
's covert operations within the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
during the 1980s and 1990s.
Committee created by the U.S. House of RepresentativesThe report was the work product of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China. This special committee, created by a 409-10 vote of the U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...
on June 18, 1998, was tasked with the responsibility of investigating whether technology or information was transferred to the People's Republic of China that may have contributed to the enhancement of the nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles or to the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...
A similar investigation had already begun in the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...
under the leadership of Senator Fred Thompson
Fred Dalton Thompson
Fred Dalton Thompson , is an American politician, actor, attorney, lobbyist, columnist, and radio host. He served as a Republican U.S...
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...
). Thompson had opened his hearings on China's influence in America's 1996 presidential and congressional elections 11 months earlier (on July 8, 1997).
The Chairman of the Committee was Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...
Rep. Christopher Cox of California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...
, whose name became synonymous with the committee's final report. Four other Republicans and Democrats served on the panel, including Representative Norm Dicks, who served as the ranking
In United States politics, a ranking member is the second-most senior member of a congressional or state legislative committee from the majority party. Another usage refers to the most senior member of a congressional or state legislative committee from the minority party. This second usage, often...
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...
member. The committee's final report was approved unanimously by all 9 members. The redacted
Redaction is a form of editing in which multiple source texts are combined and subjected to minor alteration to make them into a single work. Often this is a method of collecting a series of writings on a similar theme and creating a definitive and coherent work...
version of the report was released to the public May 25, 1999.
Major AllegationsThe Cox Report contained five major allegations about China and nuclear weapons.
- China stole design information regarding the United States' seven most advanced thermonuclear weapons.
- These stolen secrets enabled the PLAPeople's Liberation ArmyThe People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...
to accelerate the design, development and testing of its own nuclear weapons.
- China's next generation of nuclear weapons would contain elements of stolen U.S. design information and would be comparable in effectiveness to the weapons used by the United States.
- Small warheads based on stolen U.S. information could be ready for deployment in 2002 also enabling China to integrate MIRV technology on its next generation of missiles.
- These thefts were not isolated incidents, but rather the results of decades of intelligence operations against U.S. weapons laboratories conducted by the Ministry of State Security. In addition, the report described the illegal activity likely persisted despite new security measures implemented as a result of the scandal.
The Chinese government
Government of the People's Republic of China
All power within the government of the People's Republic of China is divided among three bodies: the People's Republic of China, State Council, and the People's Liberation Army . This article is concerned with the formal structure of the state, its departments and their responsibilities...
called all allegations "groundless".
While several groups, including the People's Republic of China, contend that the Report is overstated or inaccurate, its authors and supporters maintain that its gist is undeniable. The report's basic findings were as follows, quoted from the above document's opening summary:
China's responseIn response, the PRC has maintained that its nuclear technology was indigenously developed and was not the result of espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...
Congress' responseThe Cox Report's release prompted major legislative
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...
The term administration, as used in the context of government, differs according to jurisdiction.-United States:In United States usage, the term refers to the executive branch under a specific president , for example: the "Barack Obama administration." It can also mean an executive branch agency...
reforms. More than two dozen of the Select Committee's recommendations were enacted into law, including the creation of a new National Nuclear Security Administration to take over the nuclear weapons security responsibilities of the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...
. At the same time, no person has ever been convicted of providing nuclear information to the PRC, and the one case that was brought in connection to these charges, that of Wen Ho Lee
Wen Ho Lee
Dr. Wen Ho Lee is a Taiwan-born Taiwanese American scientist who worked for the University of California at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He created simulations of nuclear explosions for the purposes of scientific inquiry, as well as for improving the safety and reliability of the US nuclear...
, fell apart.
Related prosecutionsTwo of the U.S. companies named in the report – Loral Space and Communications Corp. and Hughes Electronics Corp. – were later successfully prosecuted by the federal government for violations of U.S. export control law, resulting in the two largest fines in the history of the Arms Export Control Act
Arms Export Control Act
The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 gives the President of the United States the authority to control the import and export of defense articles and defense services. It requires governments that receive weapons from the United States to use them for legitimate self-defense...
. Loral paid a $14 million fine in 2002, and Hughes paid a $32 million fine in 2003.
CriticismThe report inflated the SLBM JL-2
The JL-2 is a Chinese second-generation intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missile which has a two-stage, solid–liquid-fuelled propulsion design. Accurate specifications of the new missile are hard to obtain and substantiate due to the secretive nature of the program...
's range, classifying it 12,000 km rather than the conventional 8,000 km figure used within the intelligence community. Using this inflated figure, the report went on to speculate on how the PLA could change its basic nuclear policy and doctrine. Joseph Cirincione, a noted expert in the area of non-proliferation, has called the report a "propaganda piece."
Damage AssessmentIn response to the allegations contained in the report, the CIA appointed retired U.S. Navy Admiral David Jeremiah
For the article on the retired U.S. Navy admiral and former Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, see David E. Jeremiah.David P. Jeremiah is a conservative evangelical Christian author, evangelist, and currently the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, an evangelical...
to review and assess the report's findings. In April 1999, Admiral Jeremiah released a report backing up the Cox Report's main allegation that stolen information had been used to develop or modernize Chinese missiles and/or warheads.
U.S. ComplicityJonathan D. Pollack http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jonathan_Pollack, an expert on Chinese technological and military development, criticized the report for failing to disclose the context in which U.S.-Sino relations dating back to the 1970s had fostered the enhancement of Chinese power as a counter balance to the Soviet Union. Thus the environment in which these illegal transfers of technology took place may have been taking place in a relaxed or even complicit environment.
W-70 & W-88 UsefulnessRichard L. Garwin, a former U.S. weapons designer, remarked that stolen information regarding the W-70 and W-88 warhead would not appear to directly impair U.S. national security since to develop weapons based on this technology would require a massive investment in resources and not be in their best strategic interests with regard to their nuclear program.
CISAC ReportIn December 1999, a group of physicists and other scholars from Harvard, Stanford, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory , just outside Livermore, California, is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center founded by the University of California in 1952...
released an assessment of the Cox Report that published by the Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation. The review refuted all five major conclusions of the report, although it only addresses the unclassified portion of the Cox Report and is written by the accused in their defense.
Xinhua and Lyndon LaRoucheXinhua News Agency
Xinhua News Agency
The Xinhua News Agency is the official press agency of the government of the People's Republic of China and the biggest center for collecting information and press conferences in the PRC. It is the largest news agency in the PRC, ahead of the China News Service...
, China's state media agency, reported that economist, Executive Intelligence Review
Executive Intelligence Review
Executive Intelligence Review is a weekly newsmagazine founded in 1974 by the American political activist Lyndon LaRouche. Based in Leesburg, Virginia, it maintains offices in a number of countries, according to its masthead, including Wiesbaden, Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris, Melbourne, and Mexico City...
founder, and Democratic Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon LaRouche
Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr. is an American political activist and founder of a network of political committees, parties, and publications known collectively as the LaRouche movement...
had issued a statement in June 1999 to refute the allegations of espionage. LaRouche stated that "the Cox Committee's report is a scientifically illiterate hoax" and "The Cox Committee's report itself contains sufficient crucial evidence to reveal its claims of alleged scientific espionage by China to be intrinsically fraudulent." A LaRouche spokesperson, Debra Freeman, added that the report is, "absolutely and completely ridiculous" and "it's hard for credible and knowledgeable people to accept."