US accuses Chinese spy of stealing aviation trade secrets

The Department of Justice has released indictment papers for Xu Yanjun, who it claims orchestrated espionage operations against US aviation firms

GE Aviation was one of the American firms targeted by the intelligence officer, who attempted to steal trade secrets and economic data

A Chinese intelligence officer has been charged with economic espionage and stealing trade secrets from a number of high profile US aviation firms, according to indictment documents from the US Department of Justice.

Xu Yanjun, who also uses the aliases Qu Hui and Zhang Hui, was extradited from Belgium on October 10 to face trial on US soil, according to the Department of Justice.

Xu is accused of attempting to obtain trade secrets and economic data from GE Aviation and other American aerospace firms

The US authorities are claiming that Xu’s plot was orchestrated by the Chinese Government. FBI Assistant Director Bill Priestap said: “This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese Government’s direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States.”

Xu is accused of attempting to obtain trade secrets and economic data from GE Aviation and other American aerospace firms, including a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology, beginning in 2013.

Xu is a deputy division director within the Chinese Ministry of State Security, which conducts domestic and overseas espionage. US Attorney General For National Security John Demers stated in a press release: “This case is not an isolated incident. 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.”

Xu is charged with economic espionage and stealing trade secrets, accusations that carry a maximum combined penalty of 25 years in prison.

The charges form part of a larger espionage battle raging between China and the US. Earlier this month, an investigation by Bloomberg revealed that Chinese firms had placed microchips inside hardware destined for US technology companies, an action it alleges would facilitate spying by the Chinese Government.

The indictment of Xu marks a new development in the conflict; it is the first time an intelligence official has been arrested and faced charges for specific crimes on US soil.