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USA arrests alleged Chinese national for targeting major aviation companies

11 October 2018

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

He reportedly tried to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation.

A spokesman for one of the targeted companies, General Electric Aviation, said "the impact to GE Aviation is minimal, thanks to early detection, our advanced digital systems and internal processes, and our partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

Other entities linked to the Chinese economic espionage operation involving Xu included the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China and the Aviation Industries of China.

John Demers, the assistant U.S. attorney general for national security, said the case was not an isolated incident.

Justice officials cast the arrest of Xu as part of the global fight against China's alleged campaign to steal USA economic secrets.

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"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.

Responsible for intelligence gathering and conducting investigations on issues related to interaction between Chinese and foreign entities, MSS is roughly equivalent to America's National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

"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.

The indictment, filed in federal court in Cincinnati, lays out Xu's alleged efforts to steal technology from an unidentified Ohio-based aviation company.

Justice Department officials said the indictment is but the latest example of China seeking to develop its economy at the expense of American firms and know-how. "We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow." said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in the press release.

He made contact with experts and recruited them to travel to China, often for the initial objective of delivering a university presentation and paying their costs and a stipend, the Justice Department said.

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United States has significantly ramped up its rhetoric against China amid a trade war.

A report by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a DNI component, made public last summer said China is engaged in aggressive cyber operations to steal valuable USA technology and economic secrets.

Xu often exchanged information with individuals at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronomics, which is one of the top engineering schools in China and has significant influence over China's aerospace industry, according to court documents.

Trump on Tuesday said Washington had canceled "a couple of meetings" with Chinese trade representatives, claiming that China is "is not ready to make a deal". The employee, under Xu's directions, downloaded company materials and traveled to Belgium in April to pass that data to Xu, the indictment alleges.

According to the Washington Post, one of Xu's alleged coconspirators is Ji Chaoqun, a Chicago man arrested last month.

The MSS officer's mission was to obtain American technology from US aerospace companies. All were naturalised U.S. citizens born either in mainland China or the self-governed island of Taiwan.

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USA arrests alleged Chinese national for targeting major aviation companies