The first Chinese intelligence officer to stand trial in the U.S. has been convicted. Yanjun Xu, a spy for the Chinese Ministry of State Security was convicted for attempting to steal trade secrets from American aviation firms and from General Electric. Court documents state that Xu used aliases to try to steal proprietary technology as far back as 2013.
General Electric cooperated with the Justice Department in its investigation, which concluded that Xu approached various firms under the guise of research for a university presentation. In particular, he was interested in gaining information about GE Aviation’s composite aircraft engine fan.
Fox News reports:
“This was state-sponsored economic espionage by the PRC designed to steal American technology and put Americans out of work,” said Alan E. Kohler Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “For those who doubt the real goals of the PRC, this should be a wakeup call; they are stealing American technology to benefit their economy and military.”
Xu pressed a GE Aviation employee for specific information in March 2017. The suspicions of the employee led to Xu’s arrest in Belgium and 2018 and subsequent extradition to the U.S.
The Justice Department says that Xu’s conviction is proof that the U.S. is serious about preventing the Chinese from stealing American industrial secrets.
“This conviction of a card-carrying intelligence officer for economic espionage underscores that trade secret theft is integral to the PRC government’s plans to modernize its industries,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “But this conviction also serves notice that the United States will not sit by as China, or any other nation-state, attempts to steal instead of researching and developing key technology.”
Hopefully, these developments will wake more corporations up to what the Chinese are doing.