Buyout Deal Gives China Access to Top Secret CIA, FBI Communications

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2003 11:37 p.m. EST

A former New Jersey congressman is raising concerns that a Beijing-based buyout of bankrupt telecommunications giant Global Crossing could give Chinese military intelligence access to top secret FBI and CIA communications.

In a joint takeover bid that could thoroughly compromise U.S. national security, China's Hutchison Whampoa Company and Singapore Telemedia Technologies (STT) have offered $250 million for a 61.5 percent stake in Global Crossing, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday.

Noting that the telecommunications company carries all the confidential data of the Justice Department, the FBI and the CIA, IDT Corp. chief executive and former GOP congressman Jim Courter complained, "Now we find there are sincere and very strong national security concerns about this international network being potentially controlled by a communist country."

Courter's IDT colleague, company chairman Howard Jonas, added, "We think it is against the national interests of the United States to sell this company to a foreign entity, particularly a hostile foreign entity like the communist Chinese and anyone who would be their partners, like the Singaporeans."

IDT Corp said it would top the Hutchison Whampoa-STT bid by $5 million.

In light of the new U.S. national security concerns, Hutchison and STT may need to submit a revised proposal for the Global Crossing buyout; one which includes "an assurance that they would not compromise U.S. national security," the Post said.

"We'll cooperate with the relevant regulator to gain approval," STT spokesman Melinda Tan told the Post.

Four years ago, congressional Republicans and former U.S. defense officials blasted Hutchison Whampoa when it gained control of ports at both ends of the Panama Canal, complaining that the move gave China effective control over one of the globe's most strategically valuable waterways.

At the time, President Clinton said he felt comfortable with the Hutchison deal, the Post noted.