Chinese spy convicted of trying to steal U.S. aviation secrets in historic trial

Yanjun Xu is the first Chinese intelligence officer to be extradited to the United States to stand trial.

Updated: November 6, 2021 - 12:30am

A federal jury in Ohio on Friday convicted a spy for China’s State Security Ministry of trying to steal trade secrets from U.S. aviation firms.

Yanjun Xu, the first Chinese intelligence officer to be extradited to the United States to stand trial, was convicted of conspiring to and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets, the Justice Department said.

“This conviction of a card-carrying intelligence officer for economic espionage underscores that trade secret theft is integral to the PRC government’s plans to modernize its industries,”Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said in hailing the verdict. 

According to court documents, Xu used multiple aliases to target specific aviation companies in the United States and abroad, including General Electric’s exclusive composite aircraft engine fan.

“This was state-sponsored economic espionage by the PRC designed to steal American technology and put Americans out of work,” FBI Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. said. 

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