A Chinese spy has been extradited to the United States and charged with economic espionage, the Department of Justice revealed Wednesday.
The intelligence officer, Yanjun Xu, was transported to U.S. from Belgium on Tuesday after being lured to the European nation by federal agents.
Working on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, Xu, also known as Qu Hui and Zhang Hui, has been accused of “conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and steal trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviation and aerospace companies.”
“This indictment alleges that a Chinese intelligence officer sought to steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from an American company that leads the way in aerospace,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “This case is not an isolated incident. It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense.”
Xu, according to the indictment, spent the last 5 years targeting numerous companies both domestically and abroad, including Cincinnati-based GE Aviation.
“He identified experts who worked for these companies and recruited them to travel to China, often initially under the guise of asking them to deliver a university presentation,” a DoJ press release states. “Xu and others paid the experts’ travel costs and provided stipends.”
The case is believed to be the first time a government spy from China has been brought to the U.S. for charges.
“This case shows that federal law enforcement authorities can not only detect and disrupt such espionage, but can also catch its perpetrators,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Benjamin C. Glassman. “The defendant will now face trial in federal court in Cincinnati.”
The unprecedented move comes as tensions grow between the U.S. and China over issues including trade and intellectual property.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence last week took a strong stance towards China during a speech at Washington D.C.’s Hudson Institute.
“Chinese security agencies have masterminded the wholesale theft of American technology — including cutting-edge military blueprints,” Pence said.
The DoJ also announced late last month the arrest of a Chinese national in Chicago accused of spying on behalf of Beijing.