Chinese Nationals Arrested, One in Possession of Trade Secrets, Another for Destroying Evidence

 In Foreign, Technology

Two Chinese nationals were arrested on Friday by the DOJ. Haizhou Hu is a Chinese national who was conducting “research” at the University of Virginia. He was arrested Friday before boarding a plane to China, and found to be in possession of trade secrets. Another Chinese national, Guan Lei, was arrested when he was observed throwing away a computer hard drive into a dumpster. He, too was blocked from boarding a plane to China. (Daily Caller)

Haizhou Hu, UVA researcher

Hu is charged with accessing a computer without authorization, or exceeding authorization to obtain information from a protected computer and theft of trade secrets.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia stated,

According to court documents, investigators first became aware of Hu, who is in the United States conducting research studying bio-mimics and fluid dynamics at the University of Virginia, on August 25, 2020 when he attempted to board a flight to China at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. A routine screening conducted by authorities revealed that Hu was alleged to be in possession of bio-inspired research simulation software code that he was not authorized to possess, and which represented the result of years of research and resources in its development by members of the University of Virginia academic community.

Guan Lei, UCLA researcher

Lei has been charged with destroying a hard drive as the FBI was investigating the possible transfer of sensitive information to China.

The DOJ reported,

The criminal complaint alleges that Guan, who was in the U.S. on a J-1 non-immigrant visa, threw a damaged hard drive into a trash dumpster near his residence on July 25.  The FBI recovered the damaged hard drive after Guan was not allowed to board a flight to China and after Guan refused the FBI’s request to examine his computer.  The affidavit in support of the complaint notes that the internal hard drive “was irreparably damaged and that all previous data associated with the hard drive appears to have been removed deliberately and by force.”

According to the complaint, Guan is being investigated for possibly transferring sensitive U.S. software or technical data to China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and falsely denying his association with the Chinese military – the People’s Liberation Army – in connection with his 2018 visa application and in interviews with federal law enforcement. Guan later admitted that he had participated in military training and wore military uniforms while at NUDT.  One of Guan’s NUDT faculty advisors in China was also a lieutenant general in the PLA who developed computers used by the PLA General Staff Department, the PLA General Armament Department, Air Force, military weather forecasts, and nuclear technology.  NUDT is “suspected of procuring U.S.-origin items to develop supercomputers with nuclear explosive applications” and has been placed on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List for nuclear nonproliferation reasons, according to the affidavit.

In addition to destroying the hard drive, the complaint alleges that Guan concealed digital storage devices from investigators and falsely told federal officials that he had not had any contact with the Chinese consulate during his nearly two-year stay in the U.S.

So we have two Chinese nationals arrested on Friday for surreptitiously working for the Chinese.

Stealing US technology

For example Hu was studying bio-mimics and fluid dynamics. Bio-mimics is a study used to develop inventions to help people that are based on the ability of biological creatures. For example, an octopus can change colors depending on its surroundings.

“Researchers at the University of Houston have developed a similar device capable of detecting its surrounds and matching this environment in mere seconds. This early prototype uses a flexible, pixelated grid utilizing actuators, light sensors, and reflectors. As the light sensors detect a a change in the surroundings, a signal is sent to the corresponding diode. This creates heat in the area and the thermochromatic grid then changes color. This artificial “skin” could have both military and commercial applications down the road.” Digital Trends

From sharkskin to the Stenocara beetle, there are many things being researched currently regarding bio-mimics.  Stealing US inventions, and possibly using them against us one day may prove more dangerous that we realize.  As of February this year, the FBI was investigating about 1,000 cases of Chinese theft of US technology.

Featured photo: US State Department/D. Thompson via


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