Chinese spy charged with stealing United States tech secrets

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An indictment suggested he was lured to Belgium in a counterintelligence operation where he was arrested under a USA warrant on April 1.

"We can not tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower".

Last week, Vice President Pence accused the Chinese of trying to orchestrate "the wholesale theft of American technology".

Xu, per a news release from the Justice Department, "sought to steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from an American company that leads the way in aerospace".

In one instance, Mr. Xu, using an alias, contacted a GE Aviation engineer asking him to give a presentation on engine structure design at a Chinese University, according to the indictment.

Other entities linked to the Chinese economic espionage operation involving Xu included the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China and the Aviation Industries of China.

"This indictment alleges that a Chinese intelligence officer sought to steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from an American company that leads the way in aerospace", said John Demers, the assistant U.S. attorney general for national security.

The officer was identified as Yanjun Xu, a Ministry of State Security intelligence officer who was extradited to the United States from Belgium on Tuesday.

The FBI said the extradition showed the "direct oversight" of the Chinese government in "economic espionage" against the USA, but China has accused Washington of "making something out of thin air".

The DOJ said Xu is a top member of the Ministry of State Security - the Chinese intelligence agency whose members have permission to spy in China and around the world.

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According to prosecutors in OH on Wednesday, since 2013 Xu has lured eggheads from three aerospace companies in America to China by inviting them to give university presentations in the Middle Kingdom.

Xu made his initial appearance in federal court in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Wednesday.

"It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense", Demers said.

"US aerospace companies invest decades of time and billions of dollars in research".

Xu often exchanged information with individuals at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronomics, which is one of the top engineering schools in China and has significant influence over China's aerospace industry, according to court documents.

A GE Aviation spokesman confirmed that the employee no longer works for the company, but declined to say if the departure was related to the investigation.

"In reality, the presentations were for the benefit of the Chinese government", the indictment said. The employee, under Xu's directions, downloaded company materials and traveled to Belgium in April to pass that data to Xu, the indictment alleges.

Last month, the United States justice department confirmed the arrest of a Chinese citizen in Chicago on charges he was an undercover agent for a high-ranking Chinese intelligence official who was trying to recruit engineers and scientists.

The move is in line with a new law passed in August - the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernisation Act of 2018 (or FIRRMA) - in response to warnings from intelligence officials that advanced United States technology transferred to Chinese companies through acquisitions and other means may have undercut the American military's advantages over China. All were naturalised USA citizens born either in mainland China or the self-governed island of Taiwan.

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