The May 26 editorial "Nuclear Pickpocket" makes several inaccurate statements about end-use checks of U.S. high-performance computers exported to China. The Post wrongly states that the checks are conducted by Chinese officials. End-use checks are conducted by a U.S. law enforcement officer who goes to the company in China and determines whether the U.S.-licensed item is being used for commercial purposes. Chinese officials can and do accompany him. Without official Chinese support, he would not be granted access to the company, just as a Chinese official would most certainly not be granted access to a U.S. company in a similar situation.

The Post also quotes from a section of the Cox report stating that China's "obduracy" in scheduling checks has had little consequence. This is also not the case. If we are refused permission to conduct a check, we can take a number of actions, including denying a license, or future licenses, to the offending company and instituting enforcement proceedings that could result in fines, denial of export privileges and jail.

The editorial notes that China "rarely" consents to checks. "Rarely" is better than "never," and never is where we were until last year on post-shipment visits, in spite of 15 years of efforts by U.S. government officials to gain access to U.S. products shipped to China. The Clinton administration understood the importance of end-use checks, and as a result of President Clinton's trip to China last summer, I negotiated and obtained an end-use visit arrangement with the Chinese government.

What really matters is our ability to effect the kind of change in China that helps reform-minded people to embrace principles grounded in international norms.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce