The New York man was convicted of conspiracy to commit economic espionage after a four-week trial in March.

A former General Electric engineer has been sentenced to two years in prison in the United States for conspiracy to steal trade secrets for China’s benefit.

Xiaoqing Zheng, who worked as an engineer specializing in turbine sealing technology at GE Power in Schenectady, New York, conspired to steal trade secrets related to GE’s turbine technologies for the benefit of China, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement Tuesday.

Zheng, 59, who worked for GE from 2008 to 2018, was convicted in March of a charge of conspiracy to commit economic espionage after a four-week jury trial.

The jury acquitted Zheng or was unable to rule on 11 other espionage-related charges.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G Olsen said Zheng’s case was an example of “by-the-book economic espionage”.

“Zheng abused his position of trust, betrayed his employer and conspired with the government of China to steal innovative American technology,” Olsen said. “The Justice Department will hold accountable those who threaten our national security by conspiring to steal valuable trade secrets on behalf of a foreign power.”

U.S. District Judge Mae D’Agostino also fined Zheng $7,500 and sentenced him to one year of supervised release after his imprisonment.

US officials have described the Chinese government as the biggest threat to the country’s national and economic security, with FBI Director Christopher Wray warning that Beijing is trying to steal critical technologies by “any means necessary”.

Beijing denies economic espionage in the USdescribing such allegations as “defamatory”.

In November, an Ohio court sentenced a Chinese national to 20 years in prison for conspiring to steal trade secrets from multiple airlines, including GE Aviation.

U.S. prosecutors’ efforts to prosecute China’s alleged trade secret theft have sparked controversy over allegations of overreach and racial profiling.

In February, the DOJ announced it would effectively end its controversial China initiative aimed at alleged economic espionage, following a number of acquittals and mistrials involving academics of Chinese descent.



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