China state-owned company charged with stealing US tech trade secrets

A state-owned Chinese company was charged by the Justice Department on Thursday for stealing trade secrets from an American chip manufacturer. It’s the fourth instance in which the Department has indicted Chinese conspirators for attempting to steal trade secrets in the past month, and with this momentum, the Department is announcing a new initiative to combat economic espionage from the country.

In its indictment, the Department claims that China’s Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. and Taiwan’s United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) worked to steal trade secrets from a US chipmaker, Micron Technologies.

Micron is an Idaho-based chipmaker that, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is worth over $100 billion and owns 20–25 percent of the dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) industry as well. At the press conference announcing the charges, an official said that the company makes “some of the most advanced semiconductor chips in the world.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “Chinese economic espionage on the US has been increasing, and it has been increasing rapidly.”

“Enough is enough. We’re not going to take it anymore. It’s unacceptable,” Sessions said.

According to the Department, these attempts to steal trade secrets span across industries. Just yesterday, a group of Chinese spies were indicted by the Justice Department for working to hack American aerospace companies and steal aircraft technology secrets. Specifically, 10 different individuals are said to have conspired to steal technology related to turbofan engines in commercial airliners.

Officials announced that they would be pursuing civil action in order to prevent the transfer of the information and block the export of products made with these designs from China into the US. The Department is also spearheading an initiative along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to attempt to stop attacks like these from happening in the future, whether that is through obtaining the information from insiders or hacking.

Last year, Micron sued the two companies named in the indictment for stealing trade secrets, and earlier this week the Commerce Department restricted US exports to Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co.

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