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The US Department of Justice yesterday announced further high profile arrests of Americans alleged to have acted as technology spies for communist China.

Justice Dept (DoJ) spokesmen said the accused - including a former Boeing engineer and a Defense Department official - had passed the secrets of the Space Shuttle, among other things, to espionage agencies of the People's Republic. Meanwhile, Chinese techbiz acquisitions in America were characterised as a national security risk.

Semi-retired engineer Greg Chung, 72, was cuffed by feds and agents from NASA Counter-intelligence* at his California home "without incident", according to the DoJ. It was alleged that Chinese-born Chung, a US citizen of some decades' standing who worked for Rockwell and Boeing, had passed classified information about the Space Shuttle, the C-17 military airlifter, the B-1 bomber, and the Delta IV rocket to PRC spies. Chung was said to have been involved with the Chi Mak espionage ring.

US Attorney Thomas P O'Brien said: "Mr Chung is accused of stealing restricted technology that had been developed over many years by engineers who were sworn to protect their work product... Disclosure of this information to outside entities like the PRC would compromise our national security."

FBI honcho Salvador Hernandez added: "The FBI is committed to protecting America's assets from foreign thievery. The FBI will continue to work with NASA, the defense community and other federal agencies to safeguard our nation's technology."

The feds allege that Chung had been groomed by commie spies as early as 1979, and quoted a PRC handler as writing to him saying: "It is your honour and China's fortune that you are able to realise your wish of dedicating yourself to the service of your country."

Chung was charged with 14 espionage-related offences. In theory, if found guilty on all counts, he could face fines of more than $5m and prison sentences totalling in excess of 150 years.

American worries with regard to the Chinese commie peril found further expression in the business world, with the Financial Times reporting that a planned private equity buyout of telecoms kit builder 3Com is seen by some as a national security threat.

Under the acquisition plan, 16.5 per cent of 3Com would be acquired by Chinese firm Huawei Technologies. Some US legislators are opposed to this aspect of the deal, with Republican congressman Thaddeus McCotter calling it a "stealth assault on America's national security".

It has been pointed out that 3Com supplies security technology to the US Defense department, and that Huawei's founder and CEO is a former People's Liberation Army officer.

Huawei marketing chief Xu Zhijun responded angrily to the concerns, saying the suggestion of nefarious plans on Huawei's part was "bullshit... we only just take 16.5 per cent."

The peppery exec said Chinese security was far more compromised by the presence of US tech companies in the PRC than vice versa, alluding to Cisco's well-known role in building the Chinese national firewall.

"Cisco's equipment is everywhere in China," he said. "The US government is concerned about Huawei... Who should be more concerned?"

In other China peril news, the DoJ said Gregg William Bergersen, 51, a Defense Department official, was also arrested yesterday. So were Tai Shen Kuo, age 58, and Yu Xin Kang, age 33. It was alleged that Bergersen had passed Kuo and Kang sensitive information regarding US military sales to Taiwan in exchange for cash. The PRC considers it is the rightful government of Taiwan.

The feds said Kuo and Kang planned to send Bergersen's information on to China. ®

*Yes, there is a NASA Counter-intelligence bureau apparently.

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