Chinese Intelligence Official Charged With Stealing U.S. Aviation Secrets

Chinese Intelligence Official Charged With Stealing U.S. Aviation Secrets

A Chinese spy who allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies was charged Wednesday and extradited to the U.S.

Xu "targeted certain companies inside and outside the United States that are recognized as leaders in the aviation field" to include GE Aviation, which specializes in aircraft engines, according to the indictment. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense". "But we can not tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower".

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.

They remained in contact, and in February 2018, Xu persuaded the GE Aviation employee to send him a company presentation relating to aviation that included proprietary information, USA authorities said.

"This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States", said Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division. The U.S. says that Xu has been conspiring to do this since 2013.

Posing as a technology association official, Xu invited a GE Aviation employee to travel to China to give a presentation - a trip paid for by Xu. According to the Department of Justice he was captured in Belgium on April 1 as part of a counterintelligence operation.

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.

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The emails discussed China's attempts to obtain information on composite fan rotors for aircraft, and Xu urged one US employee of a company to provide information on a computer flash drive. He is accused of using a false identity, recruiting an employee of GE Aviation to lecture and pass along to the Chinese aviation secrets developed by the US aerospace manufacturer.

Xu, a senior officer with China's Ministry of State Security (MSS), appeared in federal court in Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

However, this case stands out, as it is believed to be the first time a Chinese intelligence officer has been extradited from a third country to go on trial in the US.

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.

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

Trump on Tuesday said Washington had canceled "a couple of meetings" with Chinese trade representatives, claiming that China is "is not ready to make a deal". 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.

Last month, the USA 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. All were naturalised U.S. citizens born either in mainland China or the self-governed island of Taiwan.

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