Newspaper article International New York Times

Indicted in the U.S., but Stars in China ; Economic Spying Cases Linked to University with Microchip Ambitions

Newspaper article International New York Times

Indicted in the U.S., but Stars in China ; Economic Spying Cases Linked to University with Microchip Ambitions

Article excerpt

At least three of the six men charged with economic espionage have ties to a Chinese university vying to be a force in microchip engineering and sales.

Several of the six Chinese scientists who were charged with economic espionage by the United States this week are young stars in their fields, and any government ties they have are rooted in their work with a university vying to be a major force in microchip engineering and sales, according to online documents and an interview with a colleague.

The indictments announced by the United States Justice Department on Tuesday were widely reported in the Chinese media, and they surprised many people here, especially those who know the six accused men.

Zhang Hao, 36, who was arrested on Saturday after he landed at Los Angeles International Airport on his way to a conference, was known for "being such a high achiever at such a young age," said Li Xinghua, an engineering professor at Tianjin University, a state- run institution where Mr. Zhang and at least two other defendants also work.

"I was very shocked" by the "unthinkable" news of his arrest, Mr. Li said. "Everyone is talking about it."

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said it was trying to get more information about the case. "The Chinese government expresses its serious concern," Hong Lei, the spokesman, said at a news conference in Beijing, adding that it "will ensure that the legitimate interests and rights of Chinese personnel involved in China-U.S. exchanges are effectively protected."

Federal prosecutors indicted the six men under an infrequently used provision of the Economic Espionage Act that covers actions for the benefit of a foreign government. Only about a dozen such cases have been prosecuted in the United States in the past 20 years.

The prosecutors say the six defendants took cellphone chip technology from two small American companies where they worked, returned to Tianjin University, created a partnership company with the university and then manufactured and sold the chips to the Chinese military and to commercial customers.

At least three of the six men teach at the university. …

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