CCP Spy Sentenced to 20 Years for Stealing Aviation Secrets

By Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Reporter
Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
and Eva Fu
Eva Fu
Eva Fu
Reporter
Eva Fu is a New York-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on U.S. politics, U.S.-China relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at eva.fu@epochtimes.com
November 16, 2022Updated: November 25, 2022

The first Chinese communist intelligence officer ever to be extradited to the United States was sentenced on Nov. 16 to 20 years in federal prison.

Xu Yanjun, 42, had been found guilty in November 2021 of leading a ring of Chinese agents that targeted U.S. aviation companies, recruiting their employees to travel to China, and soliciting their proprietary information on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Xu, who had pleaded not guilty, was convicted of all charges in federal court following a nearly three-week-long trial, according to a Department of Justice statement.

“As proven at trial, the defendant, a Chinese government intelligence officer, used a range of techniques to attempt to steal technology and proprietary information from companies based in both the U.S. and abroad,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the statement.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates the seriousness of those crimes and the Justice Department’s determination to investigate and prosecute efforts by the Chinese government, or any foreign power, to threaten our economic and national security.”

Xu is the first Chinese intelligence agent to be extradited to the United States to stand trial, having been transferred from Belgium in 2018 after an engineer he targeted for recruitment cooperated with the FBI to lure him to the European country.

“This case sends a clear message: we will hold accountable anyone attempting to steal American trade secrets,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker said in the statement.

“Xu conspired to steal American science and technology. Thanks to the diligent work of the FBI, GE Aviation, and our trial team, he’ll spend decades in federal prison.”

Xu has been a state agent since 2003, and prosecutors at the trial displayed an image of Xu’s Chinese Communist Party membership card taken from his phone after his arrest. He steadily rose to the rank of deputy division director at the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), the intelligence and security agency for China.

According to court documents and trial testimony, beginning in at least December 2013, Xu targeted specific companies in the United States and abroad that are recognized as leaders in the field of aviation. The scheme was executed with full coordination between the MSS and China’s aviation entities.

“The Chinese government tasked an officer of its spy service to steal U.S. trade secrets so it could advance its own commercial and military aviation efforts, at the expense of an American company,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the statement.

“This brazen action shows that the Chinese government will stop at nothing to put our companies out of business to the detriment of U.S. workers. As long as the Chinese government continues to break our laws and threaten American industry and institutions, the FBI will work with its partners across the globe to bring those responsible to justice.”

Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
Eva Fu
Reporter
Eva Fu is a New York-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on U.S. politics, U.S.-China relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at eva.fu@epochtimes.com