In what's bound to be embarrassing for the Chinese space program, the president of high-tech company AMAC International has pleaded guilty to giving China military data about fueling systems for space launch vehicles. Shu Quan-Sheng is a Chinese native who's a naturalised U.S. citizen. The incident puts a black smear on the country's otherwise extremely successful space endeavor.
Shu admitted handing Beijing information about the design and development of a fueling system for space launch vehicles between 2003 and 2007. Besides pleading guilty to violations of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, Shu also admitted to offering bribes of nearly $US190,000 to Chinese officials to win a contract last year for a French company he represented. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a million-dollar fine for each violation of the act, as well as a further five years for bribery.
China was able to send its first man into space in 2003, followed by a two-man mission in 2005 and the nation's first space walk in late September. Last week, China finished its goal of mapping the entire moon in detail, and its prepping even more lunar explorations for down the line.
The news strikes me as similar to some of the more baffling decisions made during the Beijing 2008 Olympics—Can a nation of 1.3 billion really not find a great gymnast who's absolutely of age? Wouldn't it have been better just to admit right away that the pretty little girl at the Opening Ceremonies was lipsynching? Likewise, I find it hard to believe China wouldn't have come up with its own working fuel system without breaking laws. It's heartbreaking to find out that some aspects of the following achievements might have come from illegally divulged info, but I guess it's also par for the course for an ambitious rising nation with an almost stifling fear of "losing face." [Reuters]