ALBANY, NEW YORK — Xiaoqing Zheng, 59, of Niskayuna, New York, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for conspiracy to steal General Electric trade secrets that he knew or intended to benefit the People’s Republic of China.
The announcement was made by Deputy Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; US Attorney Carla B. Freedman; Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr., Counterintelligence Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI’s Albany Field Office.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen stated, “This is a textbook case of corporate espionage. Taking advantage of his position of trust, Zheng betrayed his employer and conspired with the Chinese government to steal innovative American technology. The Justice Department will hold accountable those who threaten our national security by stealing valuable trade secrets on behalf of a foreign power.”
US Attorney Carla B. Freedman stated, “Zheng sought to enrich himself and benefit the People’s Republic of China by stealing trade secrets developed and owned by his longtime employer, General Electric. We will continue to work with the FBI to hold criminals accountable when they seek to illegally exploit American ingenuity.”
Zheng was found guilty of conspiracy to commit industrial espionage after a four-week jury trial that ended on March 31, 2022. The jury either acquitted Zheng or failed to reach a unanimous verdict on 11 other charges.
Zheng was employed by GE Power in Schenectady, New York as an engineer specializing in turbine seal technology. He worked at GE from 2008 to summer 2018. The evidence at the trial showed that Zheng and others in China conspired to steal GE’s trade secrets surrounding GE’s ground-based and airborne turbine technologies, with knowledge or intent to benefit the People’s Republic of China and one or more foreign institutions, including China-based companies and universities, which research, develop and manufacture parts for turbines.
Alan E. Kohler, Jr., Assistant Director of FBI Counterintelligence, stated, “American ingenuity is an integral part of America’s economic security — it has propelled the US to become a world leader, even as China seeks to challenge our status.” to fall. Xiaoqing Zheng was a member of the Thousand Talents program and willingly stole proprietary technology and sent it back to the PRC. Let’s use today’s sentencing as a reminder that the FBI remains determined to pursue those who work with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and steal American trade secrets.”
FBI-Albany Special Agent in Charge Janeen DiGuiseppi stated: “Dr. Zheng used a complicated process to willfully steal General Electric trade secrets for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China. Today’s sentence speaks to the harshness of his actions and the danger that economic espionage poses to the United States. Simply put, the FBI will not allow American research and development to be stolen, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure American technology and American jobs are protected.”
United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also sentenced Zheng to a $7,500 fine and a one-year supervised prison term.
This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Rick Belliss, former Assistant US Attorney Emily Powers and Trial Attorney Matthew Chang of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Unit.