Chinese official extradited to U.S. to face espionage charges

Herb Stapleton Assistant Special Agent in Charge FBI right speaks alongside U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman left during a news conference Wednesday Oct. 10 2018 in Cincinnati. The Justice Department says a Chinese intelligence operative has

Herb Stapleton Assistant Special Agent in Charge FBI right speaks alongside U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman left during a news conference Wednesday Oct. 10 2018 in Cincinnati. The Justice Department says a Chinese intelligence operative has

Both indictments suggested United States counterintelligence officials had recruited informants in the scheme to help accumulate evidence against the two Chinese.

Yanjun Xu, who Uncle Sam says is the deputy director the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), has been charged with one count each of economic espionage and trade secret theft.

Xu was arrested in Belgium in April and was extradited to the U.S. on Tuesday after losing his appeal. "At the same time, the Chinese government seeks to enhance its collection of US technology by enlisting the support of a broad range of actors spread throughout its government and industrial base".

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 U.S. technology transferred to Chinese companies through acquisitions and other means may have undercut the American military's advantages over China. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence accused Chinese security agencies of "mastermind [ing] the wholesale theft of American technology - including cutting-edge" military blueprints.

Top law enforcement officials picked up that theme on Wednesday.

John Demers, the assistant US attorney general for national security, said the case was not an isolated incident.

"It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense", he claimed.

"We can not tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower". The indictment was unsealed Wednesday - the same day he appeared in federal court in Cincinnati. Xu, who used multiple aliases, is a deputy division director within China's intelligence and security agency, the USA alleges.

Herb Stapleton Assistant Special Agent in Charge FBI during a news conference Wednesday Oct. 10 2018 in Cincinnati. The Justice Department says a Chinese intelligence operative has been charged with stealing trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviatio

China said Thursday that accusations against an alleged Chinese spy accused of attempting to steal trade secrets from American aviation and aerospace companies were "made out of thin air".

According to the indictment, beginning December 2013 and till his arrest, Xu targeted certain companies recognised as leaders in the aviation field both in and outside the United States. Xu wished to obtain trade secrets involving in the manufacturing of jet engine fan blades, on which GE spent decades and billions of dollars in research.

Glassman spoke of "red flags" in the interactions between Xu and the employee.

Chris Painter, the former U.S. State Department official who negotiated the agreement, said in a Twitter post it was "not surprising that now the relationship has deteriorated, so has the agreement".

The individuals were then allegedly asked to provide blueprints and other materials, which were handed over to engineers at a leading Chinese university.

USA officials said while no military information was targeted, the offense is still a threat to national security.

In addition to using cyberattacks to steal industrial secrets, China continues to use good, old-fashioned espionage and theft to get to the technology it wants, US officials say. The Justice Department says the employee has not been charged and has no plans to charge that person.

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