Chinese Intelligence Officer Arrested For Allegedly Spying On US Aviation Companies

GE Aviation’s aircraft engine technology was the target of a Chinese espionage operation according to the US Department of Justice

In April this year, while traveling to Belgium to meet with the employee and receive the sensitive information he wanted, Xu was arrested. "But we can not tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower".

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.

In an October 10 press release, the Justice Department identified one such US company targeted by Xu: GE (General Electric) Aviation, based in Evendale, Ohio.

GE Aviation has supplied engines for large Boeing Co and Airbus SE aircraft, and is working on a new generation of engines for commercial planes and heavy-lift military helicopters.

Court papers document how Xu and other intelligence operatives planned to obtain "highly sensitive information" from the experts.

Xu's case was announced just hours after FBI Director Christopher Wray said China was a greater security threat to the USA than Russian Federation, the latest warning about Beijing from government officials including Vice President Mike Pence, who said last week that China seeks to undermine American interests geopolitically, economically and militarily.

A Chinese national is being held in custody by USA authorities after he was extradited from Belgium on Tuesday, adding to escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.

FBI Counterintelligence Assistant Director Bill Priestap said the arrest and extradition are unprecedented and "exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States".

The Ministry of State Security is China's intelligence and security agency and is responsible for counterintelligence, foreign intelligence and political security. "We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow". Prosecutors will be able try him in federal court in Cincinnati, where he made an initial appearance on Wednesday.

Demers said the case was a "significant economic espionage matter" and was the latest proof that China is trying to steal information from American companies.

The charges come as the United States increases pressure on China over its trade policies and alleged theft of USA companies' intellectual property.

A senior justice department official said the case was "part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense".

"He identified experts who worked for these companies and recruited them to travel to China, often initially under the guise of asking them to deliver a university presentation".

GE Aviation cooperated with the FBI early on in the investigation, which dates back more than a year, officials said.

"In reality, the presentations were for the benefit of the Chinese government", the indictment said. Impressed, Xu in March asked the engineer if it was possible to "dump" the material from his laptop to a thumb drive when the two met in Belgium, the indictment said.

Last week Vice President Pence accused Chinese security agencies of "masterminding the wholesale theft of American technology".

Late last month, the Department of Justice reported the arrest of a Chinese citizen in Chicago on charges he covertly worked for a high-ranking Chinese intelligence official to help try to recruit engineers and scientists, including some who worked as USA defense contractors. All were naturalised United States citizens born either in mainland China or the self-governed island of Taiwan.

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