Chinese spy convicted of attempting to steal US aerospace secrets

10:35, 06 November 2021
Chinese spy convicted of attempting to steal US aerospace secrets Photo: Demian Stringer/ Look Press

A Chinese spy has been arrested on suspicion of planning to steal confidential data from multiple US aviation and aerospace companies, according to the United States Department of Justice.

The defendant's actions were attempts to commit economic espionage as well as theft of trade secrets. The Chinese spy is the first intelligence officer from the Red country who will be extradited to the United States to be put on trial.

The culprit is Yanjun Xu, Deputy Division Director of the Sixth Bureau of the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security.

“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. 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. Instead, and with the support of our allies, we will continue to investigate, prosecute, and hold accountable those who try to take the fruits of American ingenuity illegal,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The data and evidence presented to the court indicated that Xu from the beginning of December 2013 committed his planned deeds under various aliases in a bid to target specific top aviation companies in the US and other countries. He properly chose certain experts who worked for the companies and invited them to China often under the guise that they were traveling to give a presentation at a university. Xu and his alleged accomplices fully covered the costs of travel and the job itself.

The actual convictions are based on Xu’s attempt to steal blueprints of exclusive aircraft engine fans related to GE Aviation to benefit his country.

Thus in March 2017 one of the GE aviation employees from Cincinnati, Ohio was solicited to give a presentation at a Chinese university. The man agreed and after two months he traveled to China to do so. The American employee was highly paid for the job done and his travel costs were reimbursed.

Preliminarily, Xu was accused of two counts of conspiring and attempting to commit espionage, a penalty for each count envisages a maximum of 15 years behind bars, which is 60 years in total for Xu and a fine of up to $5 million. Moreover, the culprit was also accused of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and two counts of attempted theft of trade secrets, which includes 10 years of imprisonment for each count and a fine of $250,000.