On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a Chinese national pled guilty to stealing trade secrets from a U.S. company.
Hongjin Tan, a 35-year-old legal permanent resident in America and a Chinese national, pled guilty to multiple charges, which included the theft and an “unauthorized transition of trade secrets” from a U.S. petroleum company he worked for.
“Tan’s guilty plea continues to fill in the picture of China’s theft of American intellectual property,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice statement released on Tuesday.
“The Department launched its China Initiative to battle precisely the type of behavior reflected in today’s plea —illegal behavior that costs Americans their jobs — and we will continue to do so,” Demers continued.
“China’s economic aggression poses a threat to America’s emerging high-technology industries. Industrial spies like Hongjin Tan engage in espionage to steal American trade secrets and intellectual property born out of the innovation that is innate in our free market system,” Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, declared.
“Thanks to a vigilant company and the investigative efforts of the FBI, Hongjin Tan was caught red handed and prosecuted. American ingenuity and know-how are the envy of the international market, and the U.S. Attorneys community will work to protect our economic infrastructure,” Shores added.
The Department of Justice revealed that Tan pled guilty to “theft of a trade secret, unauthorized transmission of a trade secret, and unauthorized possession of a trade secret.“
Tan allegedly stole information worth upwards of $1 billion, the Department of Justice claimed. The information dealt with the “research and development downstream energy market product.”
At first glance, U.S. investigators treated the investigation as an issue of counterintelligence. The Department of Justice’s release claimed that Tan used a “thumb drive to copy hundreds of files” after resigning from his place of employment. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered that Tan then proceeded to transfer those files to a personal hard drive.
Tan’s case comes in light of the U.S. government putting the spotlight on China’s increased theft of U.S. intellectual property. The Trump administration’s Section 301 of China’s trade practices released in March 2018 emphasized China’s repeated use of intellectual property theft through cyber espionage.
The 2018 report detailed multiple cases of the Chinese government sponsoring corporate espionage. In the past few months, the U.S. Department of Justice has put a priority on counterintelligence investigations that involve Chinese nationals.
Tan is expected to be sentenced on February 12, 2020.
What will generally be ignored in policy discussions regarding China is the issue of immigration. In addition to mass migration’s negative impact on public safety and economic cohesion, there are legitimate national security concerns.
Immigration acts as a form of 4th generation warfare, where adversarial nations like China will exploit holes in America’s loose immigration system to use de facto spies masquerading as lawful residents to steal corporate secrets and other forms of technology that will later be used to empower the Chinese Communist Party.
Now, more than ever, the U.S. needs immigration reforms that prioritizes its economic interests, national defense goals, and national cohesion before the interests of rootless corporations, public administrators, and ethnic grievance lobbies.
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