Chinese intelligence officer charged in US with economic espionage

US officials reveal charges against Chinese spy who was captured in Belgium

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

The Justice Department did not say whether Xu had diplomatic immunity, but if he had such immunity he would not have been arrested and extradited.

A senior justice department official said the case was "part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense".

Federal agents lured a Chinese government spy to Belgium and arrested him.

The DOJ said Xu is a top member of the Ministry of State Security - the Chinese intelligence agency whose members have permission to spy in China and around the world.

The indictment alleges that, from around December 2013 until his arrest in April, Xu would recruit employees from major aerospace companies and convince them to travel to China on the pretext of giving a presentation at a university, prosecutors said.

"This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States", the statement quoted Bill Priestap, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence, as saying.

Xu's case was announced just hours after FBI Director Christopher Wray said China was a greater security threat to the United States than Russian Federation, the latest warning about Beijing from government officials including Vice President Mike Pence, who said last week that China seeks to undermine American interests geopolitically, economically and militarily.

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The indictment was unsealed on Wednesday following the suspect's extradition.

According to the indictment filed in the Southern District of Ohio, Xu sought technology used in the development of fan blades and engine encasements. "We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow".

"I can't recall an economic espionage case where we first arrested the person they were running inside the United States and then got the person running him from overseas, " said Carlin, author of the forthcoming book Dawn of the Code War.

Using the alias Qu Hui, deputy secretary general of Jiangsu Science and Technology Association, Xu was making arrangements in January 2018 to obtain "signature material design and manufacturing technology", focusing on "highly-technical topics, including the latest developments in the application ... of signature material used in aeroengines, as well as engine structure design analysis technology and manufacturing technology development", the court document said. This included GE Aviation. In May and June of 2017, the engineer went to China for the exchange of ideas, met Xu, who claimed to be from JAST. The newspaper, citing an Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit, said Xu tried to convince one of the experts to share corporate documents that he had brought with him as part of his planned university lecture.

The indictment does not say if the employee was aware Mr. Xu was a spy or if they ever met in Europe.

The charges come as the United States increases pressure on China over its trade policies and alleged theft of USA companies' intellectual property.

Last month, the United States justice department confirmed the arrest of a Chinese citizen in Chicago on charges he was an undercover agent for a high-ranking Chinese intelligence official who was trying to recruit engineers and scientists.

Ji targeted individuals in science and tech industries, seven of whom worked for or recently retired from USA defence contractors. All were naturalized US citizens born in Taiwan or China.

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