Chinese national in US steals agricultural tech, pleads guilty to economic espionage

WION Web Team
Washington Published: Jan 07, 2022, 07:23 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The US Justice Department alleged that Xiang used his 'insider status' to steal 'valuable trade secrets'. The US court documents showed Xian worked as an imaging scientist.

The US Justice Department said on Friday said that a Chinese national pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit economic espionage.

Xiang Haitao, 44, conspired to steal "trade secrets" from an international company based in the United States to benefit China, the Justice Department said.

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"Xiang has now admitted that he stole a trade secret from Monsanto, transferred it to a memory card and attempted to take it to China,” the US Justice Department added.

The department alleged that Xiang used his "insider status" to steal "valuable trade secrets". The court documents showed Xian worked as an imaging scientist in the international company Monsanto from 2008 to 2017.

The Justice Department informed that the corporation where Xiang was working developed "digital, online farming software platform that was used by farmers to collect, store and visualise critical agricultural field data".

Also Read: China adopts new anti-espionage law to avert 'foreign infiltration' in key firms

“The American worker suffers when adversaries like China steal technology to grow their economies,” Alan E. Kohler from the FBI said. The investigating agency asserted that "it’s not just military technology developed in secret labs that adversaries want, it was agricultural technology used by American farmers to improve crop yields." 

In 2017, federal authorities had searched Xiang's baggage as he was leaving for China and later found he was carrying copies of the "nutrient optimiser". The Chinese national was arrested after he returned from his country.

Xiang reportedly pleaded guilty to committing economic espionage and is set to be sentenced on April 17. He may face a maximum of 15 years in jail and a potential fine of $5 million.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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