According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, beginning in at least December 2013, Xu used multiple aliases to target specific companies in the United States and abroad that are recognized as leaders in the field of aviation. He identified experts who worked for the companies and recruited them to travel to China, often initially under the guise that they were traveling to give a presentation at a university. Xu and others paid the experts stipends on top of covering travel costs. According to today’s conviction, Xu attempted to steal technology related to GE Aviation’s exclusive composite aircraft engine fan – which no other company in the world has been able to duplicate – to benefit the Chinese state.
In March 2017, a GE Aviation employee in Cincinnati, Ohio, was solicited to give a report at a university in China. The employee traveled to China two months later to present at the university and was introduced to Xu. Xu and others paid the employee’s travel expenses and a stipend.
In January 2018, Xu requested “system specification, design process” information from the employee and – with the cooperation of the company, who was working with the FBI – the employee emailed a two-page document from the company that included a label that warned about the disclosure of proprietary information.
In February 2018, Xu began discussing with the employee the possibility of meeting in Europe during one of the employee’s business trips and asked the employee to send a copy of the file directory for his company-issued computer.
Xu traveled to Belgium on April 1, 2018, to meet with the employee and was arrested at that time.
Xu was convicted of two counts of conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison for each count and a fine of up to $5 million. Xu was also convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and two counts of attempted theft of trade secrets, which carries a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison for each count and a $250,000 fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.