The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and State Security Service have both disavowed charges of espionage against three Chinese citizens who were expelled last week from Ukraine. The three had been arrested January 29 in Dnepropetrovsk while obtaining blueprints of engines for intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Pivdenmash plant’s design bureau. The Chinese embassy in Kiev denied the charges against its citizens. In a statement after the fact, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said the three Chinese were taking part in an authorized Ukrainian-Chinese cooperation program. The Ministry blamed the incident on unnamed Ukrainian citizens and expressed the hope that it would not mar relations between Ukraine and China. The Security Service for its part acknowledged that the Chinese were not spies, but maintained that they had violated international procedures governing the transfer of rocket technologies and that the incident risked casting Ukraine as a violator of those procedures. (9) Pivdenmash was the USSR’s foremost manufacturer of ICBMs; Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma was formerly the plant’s director. China is currently a major trade partner of Ukraine and the two countries have a bilateral cooperation program in space navigation.
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