On October 30, 2018 the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of 10 Chinese intelligence officers and cyber hackers from the Ministry of State Security (MSS), China’s main civilian espionage organization. The United States charged the group with stealing airline engine technology from French and U.S. companies. The alleged scheme ran from 2010 to 2015 and targeted turbofan engine technology developed through a U.S.-French partnership. The objective of this espionage was to steal intellectual data and confidential business information about the engine. China’s defense industry is working to develop a comparable engine.
Weeks earlier, on October 10, the FBI announced the arrest of Mr. Yanjun Xu, alleged deputy division director of the Jiangsu Province Office (sixth bureau) of the Ministry of State Security, China’s main civilian spy agency. The FBI’s affidavit describes luring Xu to Belgium to illegally purchase General Electric commercial aviation technology. Belgian authorities placed him in custody on arrival and put him on a plane to the United States (most likely with an FBI escort). It is probably not a coincidence that FBI also arrested Mr. Chaoqun Ji, a PRC national in Chicago, on espionage related charges. The FBI indictment alleges Ji was tasked by his spymaster — a senior MSS officer in the Jiangsu Province MSS office.