Chinese Intelligence Officer Convicted for Stealing Aviation Trade Secrets by A US Jury

Four Separate Charges Has Been Made on Xu Yanjun, Including Economic Espionage and Theft of Trade Secrets

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An officer from the Chinese intelligence service has been convicted by the jury of the United States for the plotting of sealing aviation trade secrets from several aviation companies, according to the Department of Justice of the United States. Xu Yanjun has been found to be guilty of five different counts, which are in relation to economic espionage along with theft of aviation trade secrets.

The Chinese intelligence officer is to face prison time up to 60 years, along with fines that are worth more than $5 million. Xu Yanjun had been arrested in the year 2018 while in Belgium and has possibly become the first very Chinese intelligence operative to be extradited for a trial in the United States.

Arrest for economic espionage

The Chinese authorities have yet to make any comments publicly regarding the verdict given on Friday. The accusations have previously been dismissed by Beijing, saying that the charges made on Xu Yanjun for stealing aviation trade secrets do not have any basis.

According to the public statement given by the United States Department of Justice, Xu Yanjun is a senior colleague of the Ministry of State Security of China’s Jiangsu branch. This agency is responsible for internal security, foreign intelligence, and counter-intelligence.

Accusations have been made on Mr. Xu for targeting the employees to steal aviation trade secrets at multiple aviation companies that are based in the United States, among other nations, since at least from 2013.

In one example, Xu Yanjun has made arrangements for the traveling of an employee of GE Aviation to China in the year 2017 for giving a presentation at a university and had made all the payments for the arrangements of traveling along with a stipend.

The following year in 2018, Xu had asked regarding the information for the design process and system specifications from an expert. With complete cooperation from a firm, which had been working alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the employee had then later sent an email to Xu which contained a document of two pages that had been labeled with having sensitive data.

It had later been asked by Xu to the employee to send a separate copy of the file directory that contained the aviation trade secrets at his work-issued personal computer. He had also tried to make arrangements for a meeting with an employee located in Belgium, which eventually led to his arrest in the year 2018.

Soon after the arrest, he was detained in Belgium at the request made by the United States on April 1. Xu was later indicted by the grand jury of Ohio on four different charges for conspiring to commit espionage of economy and attempting to steal aviation trade secrets. The indictment was later unsealed several months later following the extradition of the suspect.

Remarks by US intelligence

The Assistant Director of the FBI, Alan Kohler, said that for those individuals that are in doubt regarding the real intention of China, this arrest should be used as a wake-up call. China is making attempts to steal the technology of Americans, as it would benefit the military and economy of their own country.

The charges on Xu regarding the theft of aviation trade secrets comes at a time during escalated tensions between the United States and China, and with China recently testing out their newly developed hypersonic missiles, and the President of the United States Joe Biden making a pledge in public to protect the region of Taiwan from any incursion by the military forces of China.

The Director of Central Intelligence Agency Bill Burns described China as being the biggest threat on the technological basis to the United States. In the previous month, he stated that the intelligence agency is likely to boost its efforts towards the country of China.

China gave a statement at the time when Xu Yanjun was arrested in 2018, and their spokesperson for the foreign ministry said during a press briefing that the United States should safeguard the rights legally provided to their Chinese citizen.

A senior officer at the justice department of the United States stated that the case regarding the arrest of a Chinese intelligence officer for stealing aviation trade secrets is a major part of an overall economic policy for the development of China at the expense of America.

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