Military research groups at the leading edge of China’s hypersonics and missile programs — many on a U.S. export blacklist — are purchasing a range of specialized American technology, including products developed by firms that have received millions of dollars in grants and contracts from the Pentagon, a Washington Post investigation has found.
The advanced software products are acquired by these military organizations through private Chinese firms that sell them on despite U.S. export controls designed to prevent sales or resales to foreign entities deemed a threat to U.S. national security, the investigation shows.
Scientists who work in the sprawling network of Chinese military research academies and the companies that aid them said in interviews that American technology — such as highly specialized aeronautical engineering software — fills critical gaps in domestic technology and is key to advances in Chinese weaponry.
“In this case the American technology is superior — we can’t do certain things without foreign technology,” said one Chinese scientist who works in a university lab that conducts testing for hypersonic vehicles. “There isn’t the same technical foundation.”
Some of the U.S. firms whose products are reaching Chinese military research groups have been the beneficiaries of Defense Department grants to spur cutting-edge innovation, according to a federal program database, creating the specter of the Pentagon subsidizing Chinese military advances.
“It’s very disturbing, because the bottom line is that technology that can be used for military hypersonics was funded by U.S. taxpayers, through the U.S. government, and ended up in China,” said Iain Boyd, director of the Center for National Security Initiatives at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who conducts experimental research on hypersonics.
The Washington Post mapped more than 300 sales since 2019 of U.S.-origin technology to dozens of entities involved in China’s hypersonics or missile programs by analyzing contract solicitation and award documents issued by the groups, as well as speaking to six Chinese scientists working in military labs and universities who described almost unfettered access to American technology with applications in the design and testing of missiles. The scientists spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity to …….