February 19, 2019

China Says Accusations Against Alleged Spy 'Out of Thin Air'

13 October 2018, 10:54 | Devin Moran

Jacquelyn Martin

First ever 'Chinese spy' extradited to stand trial in US

Yanjun Xu, aka Qu Hui, aka Zhang Hui, a Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative, was extradited to the U.S. on Tuesday, following which the charges were unsealed on Wednesday. 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 USA aerospace manufacturer.

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". He is accused of concealing his identity to recruit people he thought could provide the Chinese with trade secrets. All were naturalized USA citizens born in Taiwan or China. Some of those defendants were charged with trying to steal everything from wind turbine technology to engineered rice and corn, which provides a sense of the breadth of what US officials say Beijing is looking to acquire.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

"We can not tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower".

"Beginning in at least December 2013 and continuing until his arrest, Xu targeted certain companies inside and outside the United States that are recognised as leaders in the aviation field", the Justice Department said in its announcement of the arrest.

Prosecutors say Mr Xu is a senior officer with China's ministry of state security - which is responsible for counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and political security.

According to the indictment, in March 2017 a deputy director at NUAA, described as an unindicted co-conspirator, began emailing with an engineer at GE Aviation and asked him to come to China for an "exchange".

Xu was arrested in Belgium on April 1 during an Federal Bureau of Investigation sting operation coordinated with Belgian authorities. Xu worked with a conspirator, unnamed in the indictment, who contacted an engineer of the firm previous year and offered to pay for a trip to China so the employee could talk about his work in connection with an event sponsored by a science and technology association, according to prosecutors. The arrest of Xu and his extradition represent the first time the US has been able to bring a Chinese intelligence officer to America to be prosecuted for economic espionage, said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.

If convicted of the four counts outlined in the indictment, Xu faces up to 25 years in prison plus financial penalties.

John Demers, the assistant U.S. attorney general for national security, said the case was not an isolated incident. "We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow", he added.

The US justice department has announced charges of economic espionage against a suspected Chinese intelligence officer.

Often, the Justice Department issues indictments that charge people still in China.

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, USA officials say.

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