GE engineer given two-year prison sentence for leaking trade secrets to China

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A New York resident was sentenced to two years in a US prison after being found guilty of attempting to steal trade secrets related to both ground-based and aviation turbine technologies from GE Power, a subsidiary of General Electric (GE).

According to a statement released by the US Department of Justice on January 3, 2023, the engineer, Xiaoqing Zheng, who specialized in turbine sealing technology, was convicted of conspiracy to steal the company’s data while he employed there between 2008 and summer of 2018.

“The trial evidence demonstrated that [the convict, ed.-] and others in China conspired to steal GE’s trade secrets surrounding GE’s ground-based and aviation-based turbine technologies, knowing or intending to benefit the PRC and one or more foreign instrumentalities, including China-based companies and universities that research, develop, and manufacture parts for turbines,” the court documents stated.

According to Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen, Zheng exploited his position of trust and conspired with the Chinese government “to steal innovative American technology”.

“Xiaoqing Zheng was a Thousand Talents Program member and willingly stole proprietary technology and sent it back to the PRC,” the court document continued.

The US court also fined Zheng $7,500.

GE Aviation spying case

This was not the first criminal case to be tried involving GE subsidiaries and their employees.

In November 2022, US federal court sentenced a Chinese national to 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of trying to steal trade secrets related to composite materials from aircraft engine supplier GE Aviation.

The deputy division director at the Chinese Ministry of State Security Yanjun Xu had targeted various US-based aerospace companies and attempted to steal data, which included trade secrets and US military information.

The Chinese government intelligence officer was convicted by a jury in Cincinnati for “conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, attempted economic espionage and attempted trade secret theft. He had been illegally collecting information from at least December 2013. The case marked the first time a Chinese government intelligence officer has ever been extradited to the United States to stand trial.

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