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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.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.