United States extradites alleged Chinese spy from Belgium

Lester Mason
October 11, 2018

The alleged Chinese intelligence officer, Yanjun Xu, was extradited to the United States on Tuesday from Belgium, where he was arrested in April at Washington's request.

"We can not tolerate a nation's 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".

Officials say Yanjun Xu tried to steal trade secrets from USA aviation and aerospace companies on behalf of China.

Ohio-based aircraft engine giant GE Aviation was identified as one of the targets of the alleged operation. Xu worked with a conspirator, unnamed in the indictment, who contacted an engineer of the firm previous year 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.

Xu's case was announced just hours after FBI Director Christopher Wray said China was a greater security threat to the United States 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.

"I can't recall an economic espionage case where we first arrested the person they were running inside the United States and then got the person running him from overseas, " said Carlin, author of the forthcoming book Dawn of the Code War.

"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", Assistant Attorney General Demers said in the release.

On September 26 the U.S. charged electrical engineer Ji Chaoqun with knowingly acting as an agent of China, due to his contacts with an unnamed "high-level intelligence officer" from the Jiangsu State Security Department.

While the U.S. 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. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense". 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.

Glassman said he had no plans to charge the GE Aviation employee, who no longer works at the company. 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. 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.

Xu's case is linked to the arrest last month of Ji Chaoqun, 27, a Chinese citizen living in Chicago, according to individuals familiar with the matter.

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 USA technology transferred to Chinese companies through acquisitions and other means may have undercut the American military's advantages over China. All were naturalized USA citizens born in Taiwan or China.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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