Washington, D.C. - Top Communist Chinese military officials are being given access to numerous American military installations , including Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), and Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Officially, the tour is being touted as one to showcase the quality of life and the morale of American troops. The tour, however, also grants limited access to the Range Operations Control Center (ROCC) and a Space Shuttle Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), both of which are crucial facilities to American launch operations.
Spacecoast Congressman, U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, who was not notified by the Pentagon of this visit, called into question the itinerary and asked the Secretary of Defense to remove the ROCC and OPF from the agenda. He also requested that the Secretary permit a staffer from his office to accompany the tour. These requests were rejected.
"I am aggravated and disturbed over the Administration's ill-advised decision to allow this visit to proceed as planned," Rep. Weldon said. "While I am cognizant of the Administration's ostensible claim that the tour of PAFB, CCAFS and KSC is benign, one cannot forget the fact that Chinese Communist military officials are being shown American space lift hardware and processing facilities. I also remember such benign access being described at Los Alamos as well, and we know what the end result of that policy was. I am being charitable when I describe Sino-American relations as a strategic competition. The Chinese have stated that they want to pursue and overtake the United States in the arena of military, civilian and commercial space lift. This Administration has shown a bent toward appeasement in its foreign policy, and it has produced poor results.
In 1996, Congressman Weldon led a Congressional investigation into Chinese launch practices and uncovered Chinese attempts to saturate the global launch market with their own rockets - at the expense of American launch providers and the workforce at Cape Canaveral.
The issue of China's space program is an area of continuing Congressional oversight.
"In the discussions between my office and the Administration, I highlighted these concerns but to no avail. The fact that today, Communist Chinese military officials were allowed to walk around PAFB, CCAFS and KSC and a United States congressional staffer was denied simultaneous access is nothing short of a disregard for the role of Congress," Rep. Weldon continued.
"Sadly today's action by the Clinton-Gore Administration is part and parcel of their appeasement policy toward Communist China. I will make inquiries about this matter and see if further Congressional investigation is warranted," Rep. Weldon concluded.