China’s military sent a signal to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates when it unveiled its new J-20 stealth fighter rolling up and down a runway just before his visit. We do not actually know how stealthy the J-20 is, but aviation experts were generally surprised that China was able to develop this advanced an aircraft as quickly as it did. Some immediately suspected that China had illicitly acquired U.S. technology to help accelerate its own programs. The Chinese, of course, deny this.

The denial counts for very little. We cannot expect a black and white case where close examination of the J-20 would reveal parts stamped “made in USA” on the aircraft. But we can compile a set of suggestive incidents that point to China’s use of U.S. technology.

This is not the first time China has moved more rapidly in building advanced weaponry. It took the United States and the Soviet Union several decades to achieve reductions in the noise emitted by their nuclear submarines, while China achieved similar results in roughly a half the time. Since China does not show similar stellar performance in efforts to develop other advanced technologies—in fact, it tends to be somewhat slower—it is reasonable to ask if China was able to acquire the necessary submarine technologies, which neither the United States nor the Russians would share, through espionage or other illicit means.

this post shows how the countries with good military technologies are evolving in time with espionage.


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