Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Wednesday unsealed charges against a Chinese intelligence official for allegedly stealing trade secrets and sensitive information from GE Aviation and other companies.

Why it matters: This marks the first time a Chinese spy has been brought to the country to face prosecution. John Demers, the head of the DOJ’s national-security division, said the “case is not an isolated incident. It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense.”

The details: The man has been identified as Yanjun Xu, a deputy division director in China’s Ministry of State Security. The DOJ alleged that, from 2013, Xu targeted companies both in and out of the U.S. in the aviation field to obtain sensitive and proprietary information.

  • Officials said Xu allegedly recruited experts to travel to China under the guise of asking them to deliver a university presentation.
  • Xu was arrested in April by Belgian authorities and extradited to the U.S. on Tuesday.

The backdrop: For years, China has used spies and cyberattacks to steal troves of academic, corporate and military information it could use to bolster its growing political and economic power. Just last week, Vice President Mike Pence accused China of using spies, its economic power and propaganda prowess to undermine the U.S. and influence domestic politics.

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