Chinese official charged with espionage against aviation companies
Chinese official charged with espionage against aviation companies
Chinese soldiers attend a flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square in Beijing this month
11 October, 2018, 21:53
A report by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a DNI component, made public last summer said China is engaged in aggressive cyber operations to steal valuable USA technology and economic secrets. "We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow".
The report said the Chinese, along with Russian and other foreign spies, are targeting key technologies related to energy, biotechnology, defense, environmental protection, high-end manufacturing, information, and communications.
Xu Yanjun, who also uses the names Qu Hui and Zhang Hui, was extradited to the United States on Tuesday with assistance from Belgian authorities for seeking "to steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from an American company that leads the way in aerospace", Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a Justice Department announcement on Wednesday.
Xu remained in contact with the employee, and in February requested that the employee send specific proprietary information as well as a list of technical topics regarding composite materials in engine fan blades developed by GE Aviation, according to court papers.
The indictment alleges that, beginning around December 2013 and continuing until his arrest, Xu targeted the aviation companies as they were recognised leaders in aviation.
Federal authorities said it's the first time that a Chinese Ministry of State Security intelligence officer has been extradited to the United States for trial.
While the USA government has in the past charged Chinese officials with similar offenses, this is the first time they have done so publicly with an individual in custody. According to the Department of Justice he was captured in Belgium on April 1 as part of a counterintelligence operation.
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Justice Department officials said the indictment is but the latest example of China seeking to develop its economy at the expense of American firms and know-how.
The ministry of state security is China's intelligence and security agency, responsible for counterintelligence, foreign intelligence and political security. It also said he made contact with experts working for the firms and recruited them to travel to China, often for the initial objective of delivering a university presentation and paying their costs and a stipend. He appealed his arrest in Belgium, but his appeals ultimately failed and he was extradited to the US on Tuesday, authorities said.
A spokesperson for GE Aviation told The Associated Press that the company has been cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for months and that the impact to the company is "minimal thanks to early detection, our advanced digital systems and internal processes, and our partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation". In May and June of 2017, the engineer went to China for the exchange of ideas, met Xu, who claimed to be from JAST.
"In reality, the presentations were for the benefit of the Chinese government", the indictment said.
He was the second Chinese national in two weeks charged by the Justice Department with attempting to steal aviation industry secrets.
According to The Washington Post, the case is linked to last month's arrest of 27-year-old Ji Chaoqun, a Chinese citizen living in Chicago, who was arrested for allegedly passing information to what the DOJ called a "high-level intelligence officer" with the MSS.
Ji targeted individuals in science and tech industries, seven of whom worked for or recently retired from United States defence contractors. All were naturalised U.S. citizens born either in mainland China or the self-governed island of Taiwan.
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