A former General Electric (GE) engineer and Chinese businessman have been charged with economic espionage and conspiracy to steal GE's trade secrets related to turbine technologies, with the intention of using the information to benefit the People's Republic of China.
A 14-count indictment, unsealed today by the US Department of Justice(DoJ), alleges Xiaoqing Zheng, of New York, exploited his access to GE files during his time there as an engineer specializing in sealing technology. Officials allege Zheng stole multiple electronic files, including proprietary files containing design models, engineering drawings, configuration files, and material specifications related to various components and testing systems for GE's gas and steam tribunes.
Zheng allegedly emailed and transferred this stolen data to his partner, Zhaoxi Zhang of China. Together they used the trade secrets to pursue their own interests in two Chinese corporations, Liaoning Tianyi Aviation Technology Co. (LTAT) and Nanjing Tianyi Avi Tech Co. (NTAT). Both organizations research, develop, and manufacture components for turbines, the DoJ reports.
Further, the DoJ says Zheng and Zhang conspired to commit economic espionage as the trade secret theft was done "knowing and intending" the data would benefit the People's Republic of China in addition to other foreign entities. The defendants received financial support from the Chinese government via LTAT and NTAT; they also worked with government officials to participate in research agreements with state-owned institutions to build turbine technology.
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