U.S. officials were able to lure a Chinese spy who allegedly targeted experts from American aeronautics companies to Belgium, where he was arrested and transferred to the U.S. to face “prosecution on economic espionage charges,” The Washington Post reports. Yanjun Xu, a senior officer of China’s Ministry of State Security, has been charged with “conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and steal trade secrets” from leading defense aviation companies. This is reportedly the first time a spy for the Chinese government has been brought to the United States to face charges. Xu reportedly appeared in a federal court in Cincinnati Wednesday.
The Justice Department claims Xu recruited experts from top American companies to travel to China, often telling them they would be giving university presentations. Xu then allegedly passed along the information he gathered to Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronomics, a top engineering school in China that allegedly has “significant influence over China’s aerospace industry.” Xu is allegedly linked to the case of Ji Chaoqun, a 27-year-old Chinese citizen in Chicago who was accused of aiding recruitment efforts by passing along the information of eight Americans. “[W]e cannot tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said. “We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow.”