DOJ charges two people with economic espionage to benefit China

DOJ charges two people with economic espionage to benefit China

A New York man who formerly worked as an engineer for General Electric and a Chinese businessman have been charged by the Justice Department with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.

The Justice Department says the two men were involved in a plot to steal intellectual property from GE and transfer it to China for use in companies in that country.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, Justice said that Xiaoqing Zheng, 56, of New York had been charged with conspiring to steal GE's trade secrets related to steam and gas turbines, while knowing that those stolen secrets would be used to benefit the Chinese government.

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Zhaoxi Zhang, 47, of Liaoning Province, China, was also charged Tuesday, according to the press release.

The two face 14 charges in total related to Zheng's alleged efforts to steal data files related to "design models, engineering drawings, configuration files, and material specifications" from a GE plant in Schenectady and provide them to Zhang.

“The 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,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.

“We will not stand idly by while the world’s second-largest economy engages in state-sponsored theft," Demers continued.

"As part of the Attorney General’s China Initiative, we will partner with the private sector to hold responsible those who violate our laws, and we urge China’s leaders to join responsible nations and to act with honesty and integrity when competing in the global marketplace," he added.

Zheng has pleaded not guilty, according to the South China Morning Post.