US Charges Two Chinese Agents in Huawei Obstruction Case

The US has announced another blockbuster set of charges against Chinese nationals in three cases, including one in which two agents are said to have paid bribes for inside information on the federal prosecution of Huawei.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) unveiled the charges yesterday and, although Huawei is not named, widespread reports claim it is the telco at the center of the case. The US filed a string of charges of racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets against the firm in 2019 and 2020.

The new case indicts two alleged intelligence officers, Dong He (aka Guochun He/Jacky He) and Zheng Wang, (aka Zen Wang), for conspiring to steal information from a US Attorney’s Office in New York linked to the federal prosecution of Huawei.

Their mistake appears to have been believing that an employee at a US law enforcement agency had been recruited by Beijing. In fact, the individual was acting as a double agent.

After the individual passed across a fake internal document marked “Secret,” they were paid a $41,000 bribe in bitcoin by the agents, the DoJ said.

The two suspected intelligence officers could face a combined 60-year jail term if caught, but that seems highly unlikely.

“This was an egregious attempt by PRC intelligence officers to shield a PRC-based company from accountability and to undermine the integrity of our judicial system,” said attorney general, Merrick Garland.

The other cases unveiled by the DoJ yesterday include an attempt to force a Chinese national living in the US to return home, under Beijing’s infamous Operation Fox Hunt strategy for capturing dissidents that flee the autocratic state.

The campaign of harassment was allegedly waged over several years, with a family member even flown over to the US to warn the victim in person that he should return to China, according to the DoJ.

In this case, seven Chinese nationals were charged, although only two – Quanzhong An and Guangyang An – have been arrested.

The final case charges four Chinese nationals, including three Ministry of State Security (MSS) intelligence officers, for a multi-year campaign to recruit professors at US universities, a former federal law enforcement and state homeland security official, and others to act as Chinese agents.

The officers are said to have used an academic institute at Ocean University of China – known as the Institute for International Studies (IIS) – as a cover for their activities.

Among the strategic wins they hoped to achieve by recruiting these individuals were the capture of sensitive fingerprint technology and help to stop planned protests along the 2008 Olympic Games torch route in the US.

Once again, the indicted individuals are still at large.

“As these cases demonstrate, the government of China sought to interfere with the rights and freedoms of individuals in the United States and to undermine our judicial system that protects those rights. They did not succeed,” said Garland.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate attempts by any foreign power to undermine the rule of law upon which our democracy is based. We will continue to fiercely protect the rights guaranteed to everyone in our country, and we will defend the integrity of our institutions.”

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