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By: Danielle Hatch

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) are concerned about the sales of American-made satellites to Chinese companies, specifically related to US national security.

The two senators wrote a letter to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo citing that, “The use of American satellite technology by the Chinese military and police raises serious military, national security, and human rights concerns.” The letter cited a Wall Street Journal story that was released in April 2019 that reported that Boeing had built nine communications satellites for China and was currently working on a 10th, which sparked the senators concern. The senators asked Pompeo whether the sales would violate US laws prohibiting the sale of satellite technology to the Chinese government, as well as what steps the US can take to prevent Chinese firms from export laws intended to keep sensitive American technology out the of the hands of China’s government.

“Among other U.S. manufacturers, Boeing provided two of the nine Asia Sat commercial satellites in the referenced article almost two decades ago via its legacy company, Hughes Space and Communications. The State and Commerce departments over four administrations—and most recently in 2017—reviewed and approved export licenses for those two satellites specifically for the provision of commercial bandwidth services to the Asia region, including China,” Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling explained. “The licenses prohibit technology transfer, not use of bandwidth. Boeing continues to take rigorous measures to comply with US export regulations and the protection of intellectual property.” Drilling pointed out.

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