U.S. Charges Six Chinese Citizens With Economic Espionage

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department accused six Chinese citizens, including three professors, of conspiring to steal sensitive wireless technology from U.S. companies.

The six individuals allegedly worked together to bring trade secrets relating to thin-film bulk acoustic resonator technology from U.S. companies Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions Inc. back to China’s Tianjin University, according to an indictment unsealed late Monday. They then set up a joint venture with the university to produce and sell equipment using the technology, according to the indictment, and won contracts to sell it to both businesses and the military.

“Sensitive technology developed by U.S. companies in Silicon Valley and throughout California continues to be vulnerable to coordinated and complex efforts sponsored by foreign governments to steal that technology,” San Francisco U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, whose office is prosecuting the case, said in a news release Tuesday.

One of the defendants, Tianjin University Prof. Hao Zhang, was arrested when he landed at Los Angeles International Airport Saturday after he traveled from China, according to the Justice Department. He is in custody and information wasn’t immediately available about whether he has an attorney.