US Charges Chinese Spy Over Aviation Secrets

First ever 'Chinese spy' extradited to stand trial in US

The indictment and complaint were unsealed Wednesday - the same day that Xu appeared in federal court in Cincinnati.

We can not tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower. Last week Vice President Pence accused Chinese security agencies of "mastermind [ing] 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". The employee's talk included details about engines that were designed and produced by his company. Xu worked with a conspirator, unnamed in the indictment, who contacted an engineer of the firm a year ago and offered to pay for a trip to China so the employee could talk about his work in connection with an event sponsored by a science and technology association, according to prosecutors.

"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 USA attorney general for national security. He was nabbed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Belgium back in April, and extradited to the U.S. this week.

The FBI said the extradition showed the "direct oversight" of the Chinese government in "economic espionage" against the United States, but China has accused Washington of "making something out of thin air". After his appeals failed, he was extradited to the United States on Tuesday and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The two nations agreed to cease all hacking operations aimed at intellectual property (IP) theft in the autumn of 2015, when the countries' two presidents, US President Obama and Chinese President Xi, signed a political agreement on the matter.

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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 FBI stated in the complaint that Xu and other MSS spies targeted American technical experts, including those with GE Aviation, and paid for visits to China where they were coaxed into providing valuable technical information about USA aircraft and space systems.

He made contact with experts and recruited them to travel to China, often for the initial goal of delivering a university presentation and paying their costs and a stipend, the Justice Department said.

The Chinese citizen is alleged to be a senior operative with the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the country's civilian spy agency specializing in counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence. The company said it detected an uptick in Chinese hacking operations during the past year, uptick that placed China above Russian Federation in terms of number of attacks. Xu's co-conspirators told the employee that they wished the presentation to focus on highly technical information such as how a material would be applied for use in aeroengines. Ji was accused of passing information on eight Americans to Chinese intelligence officers for possible recruitment.

Last month, the U.S. 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 pair were said to have specifically targeted techies who were naturalized United States citizens born in China or Taiwan.

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