US Charges Chinese State-Owned Firm For Corporate Espionage | Economy Watch

US Charges Chinese State-Owned Firm For Corporate Espionage | Economy Watch

Prosecutors from the US Justice Department indicted a Chinese state-owned company, along with several other conspirators, on Wednesday, for an espionage scheme aimed at stealing industrial secrets from chemical giant DuPont.

The indictment alleged that Pangang Group, a state-owned steel manufacturer in Sichuan province, had planned to steal secrets on how to manufacture titanium dioxide – a chemical used to whiten products from paint to toothpaste – from DuPont; and had enlisted the help of several of its subsidies along with a California businessman in order to do so.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the businessman Walter Liew, 54 years old, and his wife, Christina Liew, 49, were reportedly offered more than $20 million in contracts from companies in China for undertaking the task. The Liews apparently secured the secrets through former employees of DuPont – include one former DuPont engineer who demonstrated plans on how to design the chloride-route titanium dioxide.

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Last month, DuPont reported earned nearly $2 billion in quarterly revenue for the unit that made the compound. Pangang apparently wanted to use the obtained information to create a rival 100,000-ton titanium dioxide plant at Chongqing, China.

This is just part of a "long-running effort to obtain US trade secrets for the benefit of companies controlled by the government of the People's Republic of China," said a statement by the Justice Department, as quoted by AFP, on Thursday.

”The theft of America’s trade secrets for the benefit of China and other nations poses a substantial and continuing threat to our economic and national security,” added US Assistant Attorney Lisa General Monaco, as reported by ABC News.

“We are committed to holding accountable anyone who robs American businesses of their hard-earned research. I thank the agents and prosecutors who helped bring about this important case,” she said.

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Although the Chinese embassy has thus far refused to comment on the case, the news comes just as Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit the United States next week on a range of economic, trade, regional and global issues.

In a US government report released last November, authorities cited China as "the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage." It is unknown whether the White House is likely to pursue this issue with Xi during his visit.

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