10 alleged Chinese agents and conspirators have been charged with stealing airline engine technology from French and U.S. companies, the US Department of Justice stated on October 30.
According to the DOJ, the scheme ran from January 2010 to May 2015 and targeted a turbofan engine developed through a partnership between an unnamed French manufacturer and U.S. companies.
“This action is yet another example of criminal efforts by [China’s Ministry of State Security] to facilitate the theft of private data for China’s commercial gain,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. “The concerted effort to steal, rather than simply purchase, commercially available products should offend every company that invests talent, energy, and shareholder money into the development of products.”
The alleged intelligence officers who were charged, Zha Rong and Chai Meng, worked for the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, which is headquartered in Nanjing and is a provincial arm of the government’s Ministry of State Security, according to US authorities. The US claims that Rong was a division director who supervised theft of intellectual property and Meng was a section chief.
The others are alleged hackers Zhang Zhang-Gui, Liu Chunliang, Gao Hong Kun, Zhuang Xiaowei, and Ma Zhiqi. Insiders at the French company allegedly were Gu Gen and Tian Xi. Another accused persion is Li Xiao. He’s allegedly involved in a separate conspiracy targeting a San Diego-based technology company.
The DOJ stated that the Chinese side used a range of techniques, including spear phishing, sowing multiple different strains of malware into company computer systems, using the victim companies’ own websites to compromise visitors’ computers and hijacking domains by compromising of domain registrars.
The US has repeatedly accused China of stealing its economic and even military secrets using a wide range of hacking tools and other instruments. Beijing denies all accusations.