Yanjun Xu, Chinese Intelligence
Officer Charged with Stealing GE Aviation IP
October 11, 2018
A Chinese Ministry of State
Security (MSS) operative, Yanjun Xu, aka Qu Hui, aka Zhang Hui, has been
arrested and charged with conspiring and attempting to commit economic
espionage and steal trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviation and
aerospace companies. Xu was extradited to the United States yesterday.
The charges were announced today by Assistant Attorney General for
National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern
District of Ohio Benjamin C. Glassman, Assistant Director Bill Priestap
of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, and Special Agent in Charge
Angela L. Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division.
“This indictment alleges that a Chinese intelligence officer sought to
steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from an American
company that leads the way in aerospace,” said Assistant Attorney
General Demers. “This case is not an isolated incident. It is part of an
overall economic policy of developing China at American expense. We
cannot tolerate a nation’s stealing our firepower and the fruits of our
brainpower. We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not
“Innovation in aviation has been a hallmark of life and industry in the
United States since the Wright brothers first designed gliders in Dayton
more than a century ago,” said U.S. Attorney Glassman. “U.S. aerospace
companies invest decades of time and billions of dollars in research.
This is the American way. In contrast, according to the indictment, a
Chinese intelligence officer tried to acquire that same, hard-earned
innovation through theft. This case shows that federal law enforcement
authorities can not only detect and disrupt such espionage, but can also
catch its perpetrators. The defendant will now face trial in federal
court in Cincinnati.”
“This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer
exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage
against the United States,” said Assistant Director Priestap.
Yanjun Xu is a Deputy Division Director with the MSS’s Jiangsu State
Security Department, Sixth Bureau. The MSS is the intelligence and
security agency for China and is responsible for counter-intelligence,
foreign intelligence and political security. MSS has broad powers in
China to conduct espionage both domestically and abroad.
Xu was arrested in Belgium on April 1, pursuant to a federal complaint,
and then indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of
Ohio. The government unsealed the charges today, following his
extradition to the United States. The four-count indictment charges Xu
with conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of
According to the indictment:
Beginning in at least December 2013 and continuing until his arrest, Xu
targeted certain companies inside and outside the United States that are
recognized as leaders in the aviation field. This included GE Aviation.
He identified experts who worked for these companies and recruited them
to travel to China, often initially under the guise of asking them to
deliver a university presentation. Xu and others paid the experts’
travel costs and provided stipends.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a
violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant
is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy and attempt to commit
economic espionage is 15 years of incarceration. The maximum for
conspiracy and attempt to commit theft of trade secrets is 10 years. The
charges also carry potential financial penalties. The maximum statutory
sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for
informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s
sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory
Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Cincinnati Division, and
substantial support was provided by the FBI Legal Attaché’s Office in
Brussels. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs
provided significant assistance in obtaining and coordinating the
extradition of Xu, and Belgian authorities provided significant
assistance in securing the arrest and facilitating the surrender of Xu
Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended
the investigation of this case by the FBI and the assistance of the
Belgian authorities in the arrest and extradition of Xu. Mr. Demers and
Mr. Glassman also commended the cooperation of GE Aviation throughout
this investigation. The cooperation and GE Aviation’s internal controls
protected GE Aviation’s proprietary information.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy S.
Mangan and Emily N. Glatfelter of the Southern District of Ohio, and
Trial Attorneys Thea D. R. Kendler and Amy E. Larson of the National
Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.