Chinese engineer sentenced in the United States for collaborating with Chinese intelligence

A Chinese man who came to the United States to study electrical engineering has been found guilty of providing information to the Chinese secret service on people of interest to potentially recruit, the United States Department of Justice announced on Tuesday (September 27th).

Ji Chaoqun, 31, was convicted on Monday after a two-week trial in Chicago of acting unlawfully as an undeclared agent of a foreign state and making false statements. He faces up to ten years in prison on the first charge.

Ji Chaoqun came to the United States on a student visa in 2013 and later enlisted in the US Army Reserve. He was arrested in September 2018 on suspicion of having, at the request of the Chinese secret service, collected personal information on eight American citizens, all naturalized Chinese or Taiwanese nationals, some of them under contract with the defense sector.

According to the Ministry of Justice, he was guilty of these facts at the request of a “high-ranking intelligence officerwithin the Ministry of State Security of Jiangsu Province, a Chinese intelligence unit regularly involved in the United States.

Espionage and attempted theft of trade secrets

Ji Chaoqun’s activities were apparently linked to Chinese attempts over several years to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation — a world leader in aircraft engine manufacturing — and other airlines, including US Army suppliers.

A key player in this case, Xu Yanjun, a member of this unit of the Ministry of State Security in Jiangsu Province, was convicted in a US federal court in 2021 of espionage and attempted theft of trade secrets.

He faces up to 15 years in prison for the first count and 10 years for the second. The decision on his sentence will be made on November 15.

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