Chinese spy convicted of trying to steal US aviation trade secrets

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – A spy for the Chinese Ministry of State Security has been convicted by a federal jury of plotting to steal trade secrets from several US aviation and aerospace companies, the Justice Department said on Friday (Nov 5).

Xu Yanjun, the first Chinese operative extradited to the United States for trial, was convicted of two counts of conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage, in addition to a count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and two counts of attempted theft of trade secrets.

The ruling means Xu could face up to 60 years in prison total for all violations and fines totalling more than US$5 million (S$6.8 million), according to a press release. He will be sentenced by a federal district court judge.

In a statement, FBI Assistant Director Alan Kohler Jr. said the bureau was working with dozens of US agencies to share information and resources to combat operations by the People’s Republic of China.

“For those who doubt the real goals of the PRC, this should be a wakeup call; they are stealing American technology to benefit their economy and military,” he said.

Going back as far as 2013, Yanjun was accused of using multiple aliases to carry out economic espionage and steal trade secrets on behalf of China. Multiple US aviation and aerospace companies, including GE Aviation, a unit of General Electric Co, were his targets, the release said.

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