Alleged Chinese Spy Facing US Charges Of Economic Espionage
A Chinese intelligence officer has been charged with economic espionage for trying to steal American jet engine technology. The suspected Chinese spy, Yanjun Xu, was extradited to the United States from Belgium to face the charges. Xu, also known as Qu Hui and Zhang Hui, made his initial appearance this week in federal court in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Prosecutors have alleged that Xu targeted experts and engineers at American and foreign aviation and aerospace companies to obtain technical information and trade secrets. Court documents record him as a deputy division director for the Ministry of State Security, China’s intelligence and security agency, in Jiangsu Province. Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, said, “This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government’s direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States.”
This appears to be the first time a Chinese spy has been brought to the US to face prosecution. He was arrested in Belgium in April at Washington’s request. There have been previous DOJ prosecutions against individuals allegedly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Often, the indictments are charging people still in China and China refuses to extradite them. In recent years, law, enforcement officials have faced criticism over indictments of foreign operatives that are unlikely to result in the defendants ever seeing a courtroom.
The Chinese government has been going to great lengths to steal innovative ideas and technologies from American companies. In addition to cyberattacks, China also uses traditional espionage and theft to obtain the technology. Vice President Pence recently stated that the Chinese were trying to orchestrate “the wholesale theft of American technology.” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said, “It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense. We cannot tolerate a nation’s stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower.”