The U.S. Justice Department is escalating prosecution of Chinese economic espionage cases, part of the Trump administrationís crackdown on Chinaís alleged theft of American intellectual property and other predatory practices that are at the heart of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
last 10 months, the Justice Department has brought charges against Chinese
nationals and entities in at least seven separate economic espionage cases, up
from three during the prior 10 months.
In addition, the department has obtained guilty pleas and convictions in
six older espionage cases, while charging four Chinese nationals for evading
sanctions against North Korea.
week the Justice Department indicted a University of Kansas researcher on
federal fraud charges for concealing his ties to a Chinese university while
working on a government-funded research project. While not charged as economic espionage, the
case is part of a broader U.S. effort to block Chinese attempts to steal
indictments and prosecutions that you’re seeing the public face of now are
consistent with and a natural follow-up to the highest public priority now
assigned by the Justice Department to countering Chinese-sponsored economic
espionage,” said David Laufman, a partner at the Wiggin and Dana law firm who
previously oversaw the prosecution of economic espionage cases at the Justice
surge in prosecutions is part of a “China Initiative” launched last November by
then attorney general Jeff Sessions in response to growing Chinese theft of
American intellectual property, which officials say costs the U.S. economy
billions of dollars every year.
trade war between the U.S. and China started amid U.S. allegations of rampant
Chinese theft of American technology. China has denied the allegations. With talks bogged down, U.S. President Donald
Trump again accused China of “stealing our intellectual property.”
focused on economic espionage, the initiative is also charged with identifying
corruption cases involving Chinese companies that compete with U.S. businesses,
implementing new rules for Chinese and other foreign investors in U.S. companies,
and applying the Foreign Agents Registration Act to actors seeking to advance
China’s political agenda in the United States.
purpose of (the initiative) was to underscore the strategic priority of
countering Chinese national security threat across a spectrum of behavior,”
same day Sessions launched the “China Initiative,” the Justice Department
announced a Chinese espionage case that officials said highlighted the scope of
Chinese state-owned enterprise along with a Taiwan-based company and three
Taiwanese nationals were charged with conspiracy to trade secrets from U.S.
semiconductor maker Micron Technology.
The Idaho-based firm controls about 20% to 25% of the market for dynamic
random access memory (DRAM) chips, a technology China did not have until
add insult to injury, the company that stole and is working to clone the
legitimate American product turned around and sued the American company for
violating its patents rights — which were built on the stolen technology,” said
John C. Demers, assistant attorney general in charge of the national security
unprecedented move, the Justice Department filed a civil action to stop the
export of the illegal technology and to prevent the Chinese company from
competing with Micron’s technology in the United States.
January, the Justice Department charged Chinese telecom behemoth Huawei
Technologies of a host of federal crimes, including stealing trade secrets
from wireless provider T-Mobile.
April, Xiaoqing Zheng, a U.S. citizen of Chinese descent, and Zhaoxi Zhang, a
47-year-old Chinese national, were charged with conspiracy to steal turbine
technology secrets from General Electric. The two allegedly received financial
support from the Chinese government and had inked research agreements with
state owned institutions in China to develop turbine technology.
indictment alleges a textbook example of the Chinese government’s strategy to
rob American companies of their intellectual property and to replicate their
products in Chinese factories, enabling Chinese companies to replace the
American company first in the Chinese market and later worldwide,” Demers said
in announcing the indictment.
Eftimiades, a former intelligence official, said China has “considerably”
expanded its espionage over the last 20 years, increasingly targeting high tech
sectors identified in its “Made in China 2025” industrial development strategy.
in 2015, “Made in China 2025” seeks to make China dominant in 10 strategic
high-tech manufacturing sectors, from aerospace to robotics to new energy
vehicles. The U.S. sees the initiative
as a threat, accusing China pursuing the project through intellectual property
theft and forced technology transfer from companies that do business with
clearly see a direction from the central government: these are the technologies
we need for the future, and that (is) being executed through the bureaucracy,
and out through the commercial sector in China,” Eftimiade said.