Featured Chinese Spy Trying to Steal GE Aviation Engine Technology, Convicted by U.S. Jury

Published on November 10th, 2021 📆 | 2657 Views ⚑

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Chinese Spy Trying to Steal GE Aviation Engine Technology, Convicted by U.S. Jury

GE Aviation, one of the most reputable names in the American aerospace industry, was in danger of losing confidential information related to aircraft engine technology because of a Chinese citizen who was recruiting experts from various aviation companies to travel to China, under the pretense of giving presentations at universities. The real goal of Yanjun Xu, as it would later be revealed, was to get direct access to confidential data.

What Xu didn’t know was that GE Aviation was working with the FBI, who arranged for the company’s employee to send Xu, per his request, a two-page document related to “system specification, design process,” labeled as confidential. Xu also asked to meet the employee in Belgium, where he was eventually arrested, to be extradited to the U.S.

All of this took place between 2013 and 2018, with the U.S. Justice Department recently announcing that Xu was convicted. The ironic part is that Xu was an official intelligence officer in China, as the Deputy Division Director of the Sixth Bureau of the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security.

According to the official document, Yanjun Xu was convicted of attempting to steal “trade secrets of industry-leading American aviation technology companies.” In the case of GE Aviation, this was related to its exclusive composite aircraft engine fan, which, as the document states, “no other company in the world has been able to duplicate.

The GE90 engine was the first to include the composite fan blade, a premiere in commercial aviation. Made of carbon fiber and toughened epoxy resin, this fan blade is much lighter, yet twice as strong as titanium versions. The aerodynamic design also makes it more efficient and quieter. In a later variant, this innovative fan blade was even showcased at the New York’s Museum of Modern Art for its remarkable engineering and design.

Yanjun Xu, now the first Chinese intelligence officer to be extradited to the U.S., is facing 15 years in prison for each count related to economic espionage and a $5 million fine. The sentence will be determined by a federal district judge.

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