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ALBANY, NEW YORK – Xiaoqing Zheng, age 59, of Niskayuna, New York, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for conspiring to steal General Electric trade secrets knowing or intending to benefit the People’s Republic of China.
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman; Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterintelligence Division; and Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albany Field Office.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen stated: “This is a case of textbook economic espionage. Zheng exploited his position of trust, betrayed his employer, and conspired with the government of China to steal innovative American technology. The Justice Department will hold accountable those who threaten our national security by conniving to steal valuable trade secrets on behalf of a foreign power.”
United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman stated: “Zheng sought to enrich himself, and benefit the People’s Republic of China, by stealing trade secrets developed and owned by his longtime employer, General Electric. We will continue to work with the FBI to hold criminals accountable when they seek to illegally exploit American ingenuity.”
Zheng was convicted of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, following a 4-week jury trial that ended on March 31, 2022. The jury either acquitted Zheng, or could not reach a unanimous verdict, as to 11 other charged counts.
Zheng was employed at GE Power in Schenectady, New York, as an engineer specializing in turbine sealing technology. He worked at GE from 2008 until the summer of 2018. The trial evidence demonstrated that Zheng and others in China conspired to steal GE’s trade secrets surrounding GE’s ground-based and aviation-based turbine technologies, knowing or intending to benefit the People’s Republic of China and one or more foreign instrumentalities, including China-based companies and universities that research, develop, and manufacture parts for turbines.
FBI Counterintelligence Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. stated: “American ingenuity is an integral part of the United States’ economic security – it is what has guided the U.S. to become the global leader, even as China seeks to topple our status. Xiaoqing Zheng was a Thousand Talents Program member and willingly stole proprietary technology and sent it back to the PRC. Let today’s sentencing serve as a reminder that the FBI remains dedicated in our pursuit of those who collaborate with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and steal American trade secrets.”
FBI-Albany Special Agent in Charge Janeen DiGuiseppi stated: “Dr. Zheng used a complicated process to deliberately steal trade secrets from General Electric to benefit the People’s Republic of China. Today’s prison sentence speaks to the severity of his actions and the danger economic espionage poses to the United States. Put simply, the FBI will not allow American research and development to be stolen and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure American technology and American jobs are protected.”
United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also sentenced Zheng to pay a $7,500 fine and serve 1 year of post-imprisonment supervised release.
This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Powers, and Trial Attorney Matthew Chang of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Controls Section.