US arrests alleged Chinese spy after extradition from Belgium

US authorities on Wednesday said they have arrested a Chinese intelligence agent after he was extradited from Belgium, accusing him of a state-sponsored effort to steal American trade secrets.

The Justice Department said Xu Yanjun, an official of the Ministry of State Security, had plotted since 2013 to obtain trade secrets of GE Aviation and other companies.

An indictment suggested he was lured to Belgium in a counterintelligence operation where he was arrested under a US warrant on April 1.

The announcement came with tensions escalating between Washington and Beijing over geopolitical issues, trade tensions, hacking and corporate espionage.

Xu was handed over by Belgium to the United States on Tuesday, the first time ever that a Chinese intelligence officer was extradited from another country.

“This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government’s direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States,” said FBI assistant director Bill Priestap.

– Boiling bilateral tensions –

Last week Vice President Mike Pence painted China as a virtual enemy of the United States on all fronts and said it was trying to undermine President Donald Trump.

“What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country,” Pence said in a speech.

Justice officials cast the arrest of Xu as part of the global fight against China’s alleged campaign to steal US economic secrets.

“This case is not an isolated incident. It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.

“We cannot tolerate a nation’s stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower. We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow.”

(AFP)
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