Military and Defense

US Allies Sound The Alarm Over China Poaching Former Military Pilots

Western allies are taking steps to deter former military pilots from obtaining employment as trainers for Chinese military pilots, as reports emerged recently of former military personnel giving aid to China’s military, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles announced Wednesday the government would review national security rules after completing an investigation into whether any former Australian military personnel had signed on with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to provide services to the PRC military. The U.K. called for similar legislation in October after reports surfaced that multiple former Royal Air Force pilots actively helped the Chinese military, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s really important that we have the most robust framework possible that is in place to protect Australia’s information and protect our secrets,” Marles said.

Marles acknowledged reports that individuals had approached retired Australian defense personnel on behalf of China, stopping short of confirming whether any advances were successful. The Australian Department of Defense conducted a preliminary investigation, which stirred up “enough concerns” that Marles asked the ministry to execute a thorough review of “policies and procedures that apply to our former Defence personnel, and particularly those who come into possession of our nation’s secrets.”

The Australian government is investigating “a number of cases,” Marles said, but he declined to give specific examples of Australian military personnel helping China’s military.

In October, the U.K. government laid out a series of actions, including new national security legislation, in effort to safeguard against further PRC attempts to recruit Western military talent, the WSJ reported. China recruited as many as 18 highly-skilled pilots who retired from the British military to train fighters in the People’s Liberation Army, according to The New York Times.

A senior British official said instances of former military pilots, some of whom flew advanced fighter jets, going to work for the People’s Liberation Army had grown more frequent in recent months, the NYT reported. The official worried the practice could threaten the UK’s national security and said the U.K. was collaborating with allies, some of whom Beijing has also targeted for recruiting trainers.

On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sentenced Shapour Moinian, former U.S. army aviator, to 20 months in prison for selling military secrets to the Chinese government.

Moinian worked for U.S. defense contractors on aviation projects used by the U.S. military and intelligence agencies for nearly 20 years after separation from the U.S. Army in 2000, according to a DOJ press release. While working for an unnamed contractor, a Chinese operative claiming to work for a technology company recruited Moinian to consult for the PRC military and provide sensitive technology obtained through his work.

China’s foreign ministry told the WSJ it was not familiar with the situation. The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Micaela Burrow

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Micaela Burrow
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