Air Force Chief Warns Against Chinese Recruitment


The head of the Air Force has urged all personnel to report contact with foreign companies who try to recruit them for potentially lucrative employment overseas. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, who is also the White House’s pick for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wrote a memo distributed to everyone in the Air Force warning that those with “specialized knowledge” are being recruited for jobs that lead to training of members of the Chinese military. Pilots are acknowledged to be the top of that heap, but the Washington Post reported that equipment maintainers and landing signals officers are also prime targets, perhaps reflecting China’s rapid development of a potent carrier force.

Brown said China’s campaign often involves third-party companies either owned or supported by the Chinese government who offer lucrative sales or support jobs that gradually morph into training of military personnel. “By essentially training the trainer, many of those who accept contracts with these foreign companies are eroding our national security, putting the very safety of their fellow servicemembers and the country at risk,” Brown wrote.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, didn’t refute Brown’s claims but urged the U.S. government “to respect the normal business activities carried out by relevant companies, and not to generalize and abuse the concept of national security and smear relevant companies.” Brown’s memo came a few days after Canadian officials named three ex-fighter pilots who are working as flight instructors in China. All three have contracts with the Test Flying Academy of South Africa. The school has repeatedly denied suggestions it or its contractors are doing anything illegal.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. “ The school has repeatedly denied suggestions it or its contractors are doing anything illegal” – I’m sure, with the amount of $$ trading hands, they would deny their own mother

  2. South Africa threw the mercenaries who used the country as a base for a 2004 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in jail, (at least for an hour or two) and fined Mark Thatcher, who pleaded guilty to bankrolling it, to four years suspended and a hefty fine.
    But now being a base for Chinese mercenaries is no trouble. What has changed?

  3. “respect the normal business activities”… how about when you don’t know which apples in the barrel are poison, stay away from the barrel. I read a book recently that warns about parallels today with China to the Axis build up in the Pacific prior to WWII. Moreover, the book warns that today the situation is quite a bit more precarious than it was back then for two reason. First, we can’t count on ‘time’ to allow us to build up our forces, and second we can’t count on the fortunes of another Battle of Midway to save our bacon and prevent an attack on the US mainland. I’m not a fan of situations where a negotiated peace is the only way to avoid annihilation. There are people out there who seem to have their head in the sand.