By Bill Gertz
August 10, 2007
Chinese military intelligence collectors scored a recent coup in
stealing valuable U.S. simulation technology that will boost Beijing's
Xiaodong Sheldon Meng, 42, a former Beijing resident, pleaded guilty
Aug. 1 in California to illegally providing China's military with
embargoed software used in air force and navy training.
Meng also pleaded guilty to stealing proprietary corporate technology
known as "Mantis" while working for the San Jose-based Quantum3D Inc.,
and attempting to sell it to China's Navy Research Center.
Prosecutors said Meng violated arms export control laws by selling
China's military what is called "viXsen" source code, a Quantum3D
product controlled for export as a defense article. The software is used
in "visual simulation software program used for training military
Meng also illegally installed a copy of Quantum3D's "Mantis" simulation
software on a Chinese navy site and altered the code to make it appear
as though it belonged to a competitor. The software was part of a sales
demonstration project for the Chinese produced by Meng.
"This conviction, the first in the nation for illegal exports of
military-related source code, demonstrates the importance of
safeguarding our nation's military secrets and should serve notice to
others who would compromise our national security for profit," said
Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security.
"This case is the latest evidence of the department's enhanced
investigative and prosecutorial efforts to keep America's critical
technology from falling into the wrong hands."
Investigators said Meng stole software that is "designed for precision
training of military fighter pilots in night vision scenarios, among
U.S. officials said the compromise could be more extensive than outlined
by prosecutors because Quantum3D produces mainly military products,
including day and night combat training simulators, and advanced
infrared, electro-optical and night vision goggle devices.
"The software stolen by Meng will improve the PLA's ability to achieve
more sophisticated military simulation for training and mission planning
purposes, that is, to help them to better kill us," said Richard Fisher,
a specialist at the International Assessment and Strategy Center,
referring to the acronym for China's People's Liberation Army.
The software acquisition is part of a large-scale Chinese military
technology collection program targeting the United States. China is in
the process of building up its military forces with the goal of
challenging the United States in any conflict over Taiwan. The buildup
includes acquisition of advanced Russian fighter bombers as well as new
indigenous J-10 fighters.
The Pentagon's annual report on China's military power said such illegal
software acquisitions are part of China's "aggressive and wide-ranging
espionage" that poses "the leading threat to U.S. technology." The
technology is "vital for the [Chinese military's] transformation into an
information-based, network-centric force," the report stated, noting
more than 400 U.S. investigations related to China since 2000.
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