Toray Carbon Fiber Alert

In two separate cases, between August 2012 and the spring of 2013, US undercover

agents captured Chinese nationals in the act of attempting unlicensed exports of samples

of military-grade carbon fiber from the US to confederates in China. In both cases, the

Chinese men:


• tried to purchase multiple tons of the super-hard, heat resistant materials

manufactured by Toray Composites of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based

Toray Industries, Inc.;

• first encountered the US agents on internet sites devoted to the brokering,

purchase and sale of controlled commodities, on which the agents maintained

“cover cyber-presences”;

• knew – because they were told by the undercover agents – that the materials they

sought could not be exported without Department of Commerce licenses; and

• traveled to the US to deal directly with the US agents, conveniently allowing

themselves to be arrested before they could return to China.


What do these cases suggest?

• Composite materials manufactured by Toray are (i) highly prized by Chinese

aerospace companies, but (ii) apparently unavailable from Toray Japan – so

Japanese export controls appear to be working, at least where carbon fiber is


• US agents are trolling internet marketing sites for suspicious purchasing activities

and using sophisticated technology on their fishing trips – indeed, the agents’

interest in one of the Chinese buyers was piqued when a review of internet

protocol log-in information revealed that the buyer was communicating from


• The ancient wisdom of China’s I Ching to the contrary, persistence does not

always further: Both of the Chinese men became directly involved with US

agents only after being told that their wonted products could not be exported

without a license, apparently believing that they could talk their way around the


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