Chinese engineer convicted in US for collaborating with Chinese intelligence

A Chinese man who came to the United States to study electrical engineering pleaded guilty Tuesday to providing information about potential recruits to the Chinese secret service, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Ji Chaoqun, 31, was convicted Monday after a two-week trial in Chicago of illegally acting as an undeclared agent of a foreign government and making false statements.

He faces ten years in prison on the first charge.

Ji Chaokun came to the United States on a student visa in 2013 and later joined the U.S. Army Reserves.

In September 2018, he was arrested on suspicion of collecting personal information on eight US citizens, all naturalized Chinese or Taiwanese nationals, some of whom were under contract with the Department of Defense, at the request of Chinese intelligence services.

According to the Justice Ministry, he took these actions at the request of a “high-ranking intelligence official” in Jiangsu Province’s Ministry of State Security, a Chinese intelligence unit that regularly engages with the United States.

Ji Chaoqun’s activities are linked to years of Chinese efforts to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation — a world leader in aircraft engine manufacturing — and other airline companies, including US military suppliers.

A key player in the case, Xu Yanjun, a member of this branch of Jiangsu Province’s Ministry of State Security, was convicted in US federal court in 2021 of espionage and attempting to steal trade secrets.

15 years imprisonment for the first offense and 10 years imprisonment for the second. His sentence will be decided on November 15.

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