Thu, Nov 01, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US indicts two PRC ‘spies’ for theft conspiracy

Bloomberg

The US unveiled charges against two alleged Chinese spies for orchestrating a conspiracy to steal prized jet engine technology from private companies, as US President Donald Trump’s administration raises the pressure on Beijing to address its trade grievances.

The US Department of Justice on Tuesday said the Chinese intelligence officers worked with hackers and “co-opted company insiders” to acquire commercial aviation technology in a campaign of computer intrusions that lasted more than five years.

They sought to obtain intellectual property and confidential business data, including information related to a turbofan engine used in commercial airliners, the department said.

The case comes amid growing trade friction between the US and China, and follows on the heels of another case in which a Chinese intelligence official was extradited from Belgium and charged last month with conspiring to steal trade secrets from an Ohio aviation company.

A US Army recruit was also indicted in September for working as an agent of a Chinese intelligence officer.

Intellectual property theft is among the Trump administration’s chief complaints in its trade war with China.

China has long been focused on acquiring advanced jet-engine technology in its efforts to close the gap with Western manufacturers on the production of commercial and military aircraft.

“This action is yet another example of criminal efforts by the MSS to facilitate the theft of private data for China’s commercial gain,” US Attorney Adam Braverman of the Southern District of California, said in a statement, referring to Chinese Ministry of State Security.

“The concerted effort to steal, rather than simply purchase, commercially available products should offend every company that invests talent, energy and shareholder money into the development of products,” he said.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) yesterday dismissed the allegations as “purely groundless and fabricated” at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

The turbofan engine mentioned in the latest case was being developed through a partnership between a French aerospace manufacturer with an office in Suzhou and a company based in the US.

The first alleged hack took place no later than January 2010, when members of the group infiltrated Capstone Turbine Corp, a Los Angeles-based gas turbine company, the department said.

It said the suspects used spear phishing to deploy malware and other means to intrude into the French firm as well into aerospace companies in Massachusetts, Oregon and Arizona that manufactured engine parts.

Among 10 individuals charged were two people the US identified as spies working for the Nanjing-based foreign intelligence arm of the Chinese security ministry.

Additional reporting by AP

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