LOS ANGELES, AFP
Prosecutors in the trial of U.S. engineer Chi Mak said Wednesday that secret U.S. submarine technology information he had tried to smuggle to China was aimed at helping it take control of Taiwan.
Assistant U.S. attorney Greg Staples said the sensitive data on a computer disk Mak tried to provide to China through his brother included information on Quiet Electric Drive, a technology under development to make submarines silent.
China’s navy “is supportive of the re-taking of Taiwan (and) the chief impediment to retaking Taiwan is the 7th fleet of the U.S. Navy,” Staples said as the federal trial in Santa Ana, California, got underway.
The Chinese navy particularly needs to be able to find U.S. submarines, he said.
“And that is why the Quiet Electric Drive is important.”
But Mak’s lawyer said he was only sharing information with other scientists and engineers.
“It’s a case about technology exchange,” attorney Marilyn Bednarski told the jury.
“Scientists and engineers get information from each other and work in a sharing way,” she said.
“If someone shares something that’s not export-controlled or if someone does and doesn’t know it, it’s not a violation of the law.”
The 66-year-old engineer, born in Guangdong, China, was arrested in 2005 with his wife at his California home.
He had given an encrypted disk with the submarine and other data to his brother Tai Mak, who was arrested with his wife at the same time as they tried to board a flight in Los Angeles to China. The disk was found hidden in luggage, Staples said.
Tai Mak’s son Billy was then indicted last year related to his help in encrypting the disk.
Chi Mak is charged with illegally acting as an agent of China in the United States in exporting weapons-related technology without an appropriate export license. He is also charged with making false statements.