A Chinese satellite manufacturer was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday for supplying satellite imagery to Russia for the Ukraine war.
A further investigation has revealed deep relations between the Chinese firm and the Chinese state-owned defense industry.
Spacety, or Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. Ltd., has allegedly provided satellite images to Russia “in order to enable Wagner combat operations in Ukraine,” according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Wagner Group is a de facto private army directly under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was designated as a significant transnational criminal organization.
On the surface, Spacety appears to be a small and private commercial satellite manufacturer based in Changsha City of China’s Hunan Province. But The Epoch Times’s independent investigation has discovered multiple and comprehensive relations between Spacety and China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Listed on its company website, one of Spacety’s strategic partners is China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT), which is China’s top missile and launch vehicle research institute.
Established in 1956 by China’s National Defense Department, CALVT’s first director in the 1950s and 1960s was Qian Xuesen (a.k.a. Hsue-Shen Tsien), who was considered the father of China’s missile system industry. CALVT’s first political officer was Gu Jingsheng, a PLA lieutenant general.
Qian was once a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology in the 1950s. He was also a former colonel serving in the U.S. Airforce. The U.S. Department of Justice detained Qian for his involvement in activities related to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But in 1955, the U.S. government allowed Qian to go back to China, reportedly in exchange for several U.S. pilots who were captured by the PLA during the Korean War.
Spacety’s strategic partner also includes Sichuan Jiuzhou Electronics Group Co., Ltd. (SJEG), one of China’s top state-own defense contractors. SJEG’s main products include military AI and data systems, military radar systems, low and ultralow-altitude target detection defense systems, and 5G equipment.
Established in 1958, the SJEG was formerly known as the 783 Factory, a name used by the Chinese regime to keep the secrets of its identity as a defense entity. It was initially funded by financial aid from the Soviet Union.
Along with CALVT and SJEG, Spacety’s official website also provides a long list of its strategic partners, which are all top research institutes serving China’s defense industry.
According to Spacety’s official website, the company’s many high-level managers have deep personal ties to China’s military and space programs.
Ren Weijia, chief technology officer of Spacety, has played a key role in China’s manned space programs, Shenzhou and Tianzhou, in the last two decades.
Xiong Shujie, Spacety’s vice president, was the former deputy director of the design department for Beidou, China’s navigation satellite system that has been a key element in the Chinese military’s long-range strike missile system.
Liu Jingyang, another vice president, graduated from Luoyang Foreign Language School (LGLS) and China People’s Liberation Army National Defense University (CPLANDU). LGLS is a well-known Chinese military intelligence school that trains its students to become PLA intelligence officers. CPLANDU is China’s highest-level military institute that provides training only to high-level PLA officers.
One of Spacety’s strategic partners listed on its website is the Hunan Military-Civil Integration (MCI) development platform. The MCI platform, also known as the Military-Civil Fusion project, is one of the leading efforts made by the Chinese regime to modernize its military. Through the MCI platform, the Chinese military was able to partner with many Chinese universities and institutions that had already built relations with Western universities and corporations and obtained cutting-edge technologies from the West for China’s military use.
In the past decade, the Chinese regime has made a significant investment in the MCI platforms on different levels of government and military services.
In October 2015, Chinese leader Xi Jinping made MCI a national priority in a meeting of the CCP’s Central Committee, a top decision-making body of the regime, according to reports from China’s state media at the time. The direction was to establish a nationwide system for the management, operation, and policy system for MCI.
China’s Central Commission for the Development of Military-Civil Integration was officially formed In January 2017, with Xi being its director.
Bans by Washington
Chinese regime’s MCI strategy has been targeted by both the Trump and Biden administrations. The U.S. government has blacklisted a bevy of Chinese tech and defense companies that aided the military. Trump issued an executive order that barred U.S. investments in a group of Chinese military-linked companies that form part of the MCI strategy. President Joe Biden later expanded the list of Chinese firms caught by the ban.
Spacety is registered in China as a private commercial company. But from its partner list and the backgrounds of its top-level managers, it appears that the small satellite manufacturer is a part of the regime’s MCI efforts.
Although from its appearance, the partnership between China’s Spacety and Russia’s Wagner Group is a collaboration on the private level. However, the deep ties between Spacety and China’s military programs, and the direct involvement of Wagner in the Ukraine War, have clearly revealed a very different aspect of China’s support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.