China has accused the United States of fabrication after the U.S. Justice Department charged a Chinese national of conspiring to steal trade secrets from the U.S. aviation and aerospace companies. 

“The allegation is pure fabrication,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a press conference on Friday, Nov. 5, Reuters reported. 

“We demand that the U.S. handle the case according to the law and in a just manner to ensure the rights and interests of the Chinese citizen,” the spokesperson added.  

According to the U.S. Justice Department, a lengthy FBI investigation found that Xu Yanjun worked as a spy for China’s Ministry of State Security. He was arrested in Belgium in 2018 and was the first Chinese intelligence officer ever to be extradited to the United States to stand trial.

Xu was found guilty by a federal jury of attempting to steal trade secrets from General Electric and other U.S. aviation firms.

Xu used aliases to prolong the time to steal proprietary information from top airline companies in the U.S. and abroad. Prosecutors said he tried to recruit aviation experts to travel to China on the pretext that they were invited to give lectures at local universities. 

At one point, Xu tried to convince an employee of General Electric Aviation to provide information about the company’s composite aircraft engine fan, Fox Business added. 

“Xu tried to steal GE Aviation’s proprietary composite aircraft engine fan-related technology, which no other company in the world could copy, to benefit the Chinese state,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

He faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison and a fine totaling more than $5 million on charges including conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and attempting to steal trade secrets.

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