1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
US and Chinese flags
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Wong

US arrests Chinese national for spying

September 26, 2018

A Chinese man has been arrested for allegedly helping Chinese intelligence attempt to recruit American scientists and engineers. Seven of the eight people allegedly targeted work or had worked for US defense contractors.


US authorities have arrested a Chinese citizen for allegedly spying on US engineers and scientists, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Justice Department said Ji Chaoqun had been charged with one count of knowingly acting as an agent of a foreign government in the US without having notified the attorney general.

Ji, 27, first came to the US in 2013 to study electrical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and in 2016 enlisted in the US Army Reserves.

Text messages reviewed by the FBI showed that in November 2013 Ji was introduced to an intelligence officer from China's Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security.

Read more: Why are Russia and the West allowed to spy on each other?

Trade war: China's options to hurt US economy

The complaint and affidavit filed by the FBI alleges they later met on several occasions in China, and that the intelligence official had initially told Ji he was a university professor.

Ji eventually learned the person's true identity as an officer in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, a provincial department of the Ministry of State Security.

He allegedly worked under the direction of high-ranking Chinese intelligence officials and was told to provide information about eight American citizens who were being targeted for possible recruitment. All eight of the people Ji allegedly researched were naturalized American citizens who were born in Taiwan or China, according to authorities. 

The Justice Department said all of them work for, or had retired from, jobs in the science and technology sectors, and that seven of the eight either work or had worked for US defense contractors.

Read more: Opinion: Let's just call it by its name — a winnable trade war

Lied about government connections

The complaint against Ji also alleges that during his application to participate in the US Army Reserves program he denied having had contact with a foreign government within the last seven years, and in a later interview with a US Army officer he again failed to disclose the information.

Ji made his first appearance in federal court in Chicago on Tuesday where he asked, via a lawyer, that the Chinese consulate be notified about his arrest. The charge against him carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  

law/cmk (AP, Reuters)

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Ukrainian soldiers of the 28th brigade pose for a photo in a trench on the front line

Ukraine: Inside the trenches and hospitals of Bakhmut

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage