back to article Oh no, Xi didn't! Chinese spymaster cuffed in Belgium, yoinked to US on aerospace snoop rap

US prosecutors have unsealed charges against a collared Chinese national, accusing him of stealing trade secrets from American aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, who Uncle Sam says is the deputy director the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), has been charged with one count each of economic espionage and trade secret theft …

  1. Big Al 23

    Expect more

    The theft of intellectual property by foreign governments is nothing new but with the internet it is becoming easier and more difficult to prevent. It's no surprise that much of the theft is by rogue nations and or supported hackers. This is reason for serious security concerns for the world.

    1. TReko

      Re: Expect more

      Indeed. Given the Chinese got the entire personell records of almost everyone who works for the US government through the OPM hack a few years back, they know who to target and what their weaknesses are.

      The OPM hack can the potential to be one of the most damaging in history.

    2. trisul

      Re: Expect more

      Actually, having the national Army run theft units that steal IPR and pass it to national companies is not the norm ... especially not for countries with such favoured economic status as was afforded to China. The scale on which China is doing this is unprecedented.

      Yes, companies steal from companies, and governments spy on governments, but this is something completely different.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Expect more

        What short memory people have.

        Remember this? https://www.reuters.com/article/us-security-snowden-germany/snowden-says-nsa-engages-in-industrial-espionage-tv-idUSBREA0P0DE20140126

        Siemens, Chinese military -and- industrial targets, etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Expect more

      There is a lot of down votes here but no clear indications about why. Care to enlighten?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Expect more

        "There is a lot of down votes here"

        probably the usual suspects [the howler monkeys, my fan club, etc.]

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: down votes

          Some people just want to watch the world burn.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Expect more

        US Border people seize and scan laptops.

        CIA etc been "stealing" not just Russian but European trade secrets.

        USA copying IP since Victorian era and then US patents created. See Edison (Motion picture patents later revoked), RCA etc in early 20th C.

        It's NOT just random hackers and rogue states. Almost every government and most large corporations. (c.f. Uber & Google). Was the USSR a "rogue state"? Not the same thing as large oppressive state. USSR was & China is on the UN Security council.

        What exactly is a rogue state or hacker?

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge

          Re: Expect more

          How about Arial font ? To name but one ... This story is as if Al Capone were to grab a thief in the streets because he stole an orange ... double standards, not even funny anymore ... as for my UK fellow countrymen ... GHCQ is spying on Airbus as I type ;-) ... they all do it ... US is one of very few that gets away with trials, though ...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Expect more

        "There is a lot of down votes here... Care to enlighten?"

        There's no news, just propaganda. The up-votes come from people who like and support the propaganda because it supports their biases. The down-votes come from people who are annoyed by the propaganda and its supporters because it and they disagree with their own biases.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @LeeE - Re: Expect more

          Down-votes are from those who believe in and support PR and not propaganda. Greatest victory for propaganda in the Western world is that people strongly believe there's no state propaganda in the Western world. Everything is crystal clear here and, as opposed to the others we're all being told the truth and nothing but the truth.

          Anyone interested in buying a bridge ?

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I would hope that after the big guys get done, that the government will listen to the "little" companies and follow the same path. Maybe at some point the piracy will stop but it's going to take hitting the big hacks/ripoffs and the little ones to do it.

    Slightly off topic but part of the problem. The Chinese only recognize patents/copyright by Chinese companies and citizens. Basically, someone in China can file a patent or copyright on your product and they then have free reign to wreck as much havoc as they want.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      The bit that jumped out at me was:

      "Innovation in aviation has been a hallmark of life and industry in the United States since the Wright brothers first designed gliders in Dayton more than a century ago,”

      Which, as we know pretty much killed the aero industry in the US until Mr. & Mr. Wright's patents expired.

      Luckily, France (and others) ignored those patents and made aeroplanes.

      The US got it's start ignoring the UK's patents, and China is doing similar.

      Not that I am condoning theft, merely offering an explanation.

      1. 5p0ng3b0b
        Facepalm

        touché

        'Luckily, France (and others) ignored those patents and made aeroplanes.' So they could bug them and spy on businessmen themselves. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/09/french_spied_concorde_passengers

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Youngone - Not to mention about Germans

        they knew a few things on airplanes too. Like for instance https ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MBB_Lampyridae.

        1. Youngone Silver badge

          Re: @Youngone - Not to mention about Germans

          My comment above was referring to the very early days of flight,when the Wright Bros. patents were still in force.

          Most of the early allied aircraft that were of any use were French design for example the various SPAD designs.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        All good for planes. For rockets though? Better nab Nazi scientists than innovate yourself.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Which, as we know pretty much killed the aero industry in the US until Mr. & Mr. Wright's patents expired.

        Luckily, France (and others) ignored those patents and made aeroplanes"

        The Wright flyer was extremely dangerous and a dead end technologically (wing warping). The French designs were only a few weeks behind the Wrights in getting into the air and were the basis for most development of the first 50 years.

        In a similar manner, the transistor may have first been invented in the USA, but the first _practical_ transistor (as in repeatably produceable and actually commercially usable) was made a few days later by Philips and they were turning out quantities whilst AT&T were still struggling to get prototypes out of the lab.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mark 85 said:

      The Chinese only recognize patents/copyright by Chinese companies and citizens.

      That might be what their legal code says, but even that isn't in force in practice on the ground. I hear that even Huawei have troubles with rip-offs of their network gear appearing out of factories in China that Huawei don't own. So its not just us that they do it to, some of them are quite prepared to **** on their own door step.

      Unfortunately there seems at least in part to be a culture of get rich quick no matter what. Hence the plastic-in-milk scandals, repeated despite the original perpetrators being executed. There's all sorts of food scandals, USB hard drives made from steel nuts, small flash sticks and trick firmware, you name it.

      This kind of thing can be very damaging for an economy. GDP growth is one thing, but if the quality of that growth is poor, you basically end up wasting all that and doing it all over again. What matters is high quality growth. This is why Japan, despite being poor in terms of GDP growth, isn't going under, because literally everything they do is of the highest possible quality. Makes a huge economic difference.

    3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      The Chinese only recognize patents/copyright by Chinese companies and citizens. Basically, someone in China can file a patent or copyright on your product and they then have free reign to wreck as much havoc as they want.

      Correction: The Chinese government (and culture) do NOT recognize patents and copyrights.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair, US patents/copyright works in exactly the same way. It's not about who first thought of it, it's about who first filed in the US.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "The Chinese only recognize patents/copyright by Chinese companies and citizens. Basically, someone in China can file a patent or copyright on your product and they then have free reign to wreck as much havoc as they want."

      It pretty much works the same way in most countries. if you don't register your patents worldwide, then you lose them in the countries where you don't file and if you don't assign copyright enforcement, the same thing effectively happens.

      If you want your IP to be recognised in China, then you need to file registrations there (It's cheap to do so) BEFORE trying to find someone to make the product - and invest in a lawyer who can protect your IP there - This is exactly the same advice anyone wanting to do business in the USA used to get until quite recently too, because they'd have their ideas ripped off in 5 minutes otherwise.

      Accusing China of state sponsored industrial espionage is pretty rich, considering the USA has been doing exactly the same thing for a couple of centuries.

  3. John Savard Silver badge

    Puzzling

    Surely he was nabbed by Belgian police, not the FBI. An FBI agent in Belgium is also known as a "tourist". Although I suppose a visiting FBI agent working with the Belgian police could indeed be officially deputized by them.

    1. the Kris

      Re: Puzzling

      Quote from article: "Meanwhile, Xu was cuffed by Belgian cops in April, and handed over to the Feds, we're told."

      What does "nabbed" mean anyway?

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    Selling out for a mere $3,500 ?

    Shame on you guys. You should have demanded ten times that at least.

    The state of our engineers' knowledge is flirting dangerously with appalling. If you don't know the value of what you've got, how can you do treason properly ?

  5. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    I wonder if the seizure of the Chinese national who's Interpol chief is in anyway related to this action. Suspicious that successful extradition occurred this week as well.

  6. jmch Silver badge
    WTF?

    Jurisdiction??

    "He was nabbed by the FBI in Belgium..."

    wait, what??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jurisdiction??

      they should teach that to kids at primary: democracy and values - THERE, see that faint blueish line on the horizon? This is what we preach. Now, reality is HERE! And don't forget, if one's in doubt, pontify loud enough, most fulls won't look past your smooth talk!

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Jurisdiction??

      What I heard on the news was that the US requested his arrest and extradition. They may have flown some FBI guys over to take custody of him and bring him back to the US, but I doubt Belgium is going to let them perform the actual arrest in their jurisdiction.

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Jurisdiction??

      Friendly territory to NSA/FBI means vassal state ... USian "low enforcement" have been abducting poor sods and killing them on military airports in Poland as well ...

      The US low enforcement has more power abroad than that home, because, after all, us foreigners are Untermenschen ... according to them ...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US aerospace companies invest decades of time and billions of dollars in research

    with a bit extra on top on industrial espionage and bribery. But hey, we didn't get caught this time round, right?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy way out

    Had he simply slipped the documents into an email with Hillary Clintons name in the subject line and passed it on to Wikileaks then he would be innocent in American eyes.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will the US be handing over their operatives to China, Russia and Germany for doing the same thing to those countries?

    If not, it demonstrates terrible hypocrisy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. terrible hypocrisy.

      hypocrisy must be one of THE foundations of homo sapiens. Alongside honesty, fair play, democracy, rule of the law, equality, etc. etc. of course! :D

  10. John70

    Team America World Police

    He was nabbed by the FBI in Belgium back in April, and extradited to the US this week.

    F*ck Yeahhh!!!

  11. Simon B-52

    All these unfortunate misunderstandings will be explained in the forthcoming series of books, "The Thoughts Of Living God Xi"

  12. phuzz Silver badge

    "Innovation in aviation has been a hallmark of life and industry in the United States since the Wright brothers patented everything to do with powered flight and stopped all innovation"

    FTFY

  13. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Wonder if a deal will be made to exchange for the Interpol boss nabbed by Chinese ?

    1. pig

      That's what I was wondering.

      The Interpol boss didn't make sense until I saw this.

      Tit for tat.

      It's like the 80s again.

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