Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In October, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative Yanjun Xu for allegedly attempting to commit economic espionage and steal trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviation and aerospace companies.

What's happening: Xu is awaiting trial in U.S. custody, after he had been lured to Belgium, arrested, and then extradited to the U.S. One of his targets was reportedly GE Aviation, and this week local Cincinnati WCPO provided new details on the case in their report...

On May 25, 2017, the 41-year-old engineer loaded five GE Aviation documents to the hard drive of his personal laptop, then drove from Cincinnati to Detroit, where he boarded a flight to China...
WCPO is not naming the engineer because he has not been charged with a crime. He has not responded to our requests for comment...
What follows is the most detailed public chronology of the events leading to Xu's arrest, events that shed new light on how brazenly China shops for America's corporate secrets and the kind of effort required to keep these alleged spies from ringing up a sale.

Why it matters: Xi's exhortations to achieve "self-reliance" and "control core technologies" increase the pressure on the PRC bureaucracy to work even harder to obtain those core technologies by any means necessary.

The other side: At the same time, the DOJ under Trump has more aggressively publicized these cases and for the first time extradited a serving MSS operative to the U.S. Regardless of what happens with the trade negotiations, this is an area where U.S.-China tensions look set to increase markedly.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Newsrooms abandoned as pandemic drags on

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facing enormous financial pressure and uncertainty around reopenings, media companies are giving up on their years-long building leases for more permanent work-from-home structures. Others are letting employees work remotely for the foreseeable future.

Why it matters: Real estate is often the most expensive asset that media companies own. And for companies that don't own their space, it's often the biggest expense.

2 hours ago - Technology

Dark clouds envelop feel-good Pinterest

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pinterest set out to be a bright spot in cutthroat Silicon Valley, but now stands to see its reputation forever tarnished by allegations of mistreatment and a toxic culture by women who held senior roles at the company.

Why it matters: Even a company known for progressive policy decisions and successfully combatting hateful and otherwise problematic content isn't immune to the systemic problems that have plagued many tech companies.

Big Tech pushes voter initiatives to counter misinformation

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Tech giants are going all in on civic engagement efforts ahead of November's election to help protect themselves in case they're charged with letting their platforms be used to suppress the vote.

Why it matters: During the pandemic, there's more confusion about the voting process than ever before. Big tech firms, under scrutiny for failing to stem misinformation around voting, want to have concrete efforts they can point to so they don't get blamed for letting an election be manipulated.