Espionage Trial of Chinese Professor Accused of Stealing Tech Begins

Espionage isn’t a typical charge that the government lays. However, Chinese professor Hao Zhang is accused of being a spy that collaborated with the Chinese government to obtain tech secrets from US companies. The trial, set for Wednesday in San Jose, will see prosecution attempting to prove that Zhang acted with conspirators to aid the Chinese government in obtaining sensitive tech. The trial is especially vital amidst the current trade war between the US and China. The crackdown of the theft of intellectual property began under President Obama, but the Trump administration has become even harsher because of Chinese influence on the American tech market.

Stealing Important Secrets

The secret that Zhang is alleged to have marketed is a technology that allows mobile phones and other electronic devices to filter out unwanted background noise, creating a more stable connection. The development of 5G technology and wireless transmissions has made this technology crucial to any business intending to enter the telecommunications market. The prosecution has built an overwhelming case against the Chinese professor. Zhang, on the other hand, seems to be focusing on damage control as opposed to trying to prove his innocence.

How It Happened

Zhang completed his doctorate in electrical engineering in 2006 at USC, then went on to work at Skyworks Solutions Inc. Together with his co-conspirator, Wei Pang, they took the secrets when they returned to work as lecturers at Tianjin University. Both professionals used the information to refine the construction of radio-filter technology. They then applied for patents in the US and China and attempted to market the technology under the name of a shell company incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

Zhang is the first of a collection of six defendants that will go to trial. He was held when he flew to the US to attend a conference. The other conspirators are still in China and may likely never face prosecution from the US. China, on the other hand, has accused the US of besmirching the reputations of their scientists through false charges. If anything, these proceedings may serve to exacerbate the current trade war between the countries.