Chinese Military Officials Indicted for Cyber-Theft of U.S. Companies' Industrial Secrets

May 20, 2014
U.S. Shifts Strategy on Chinese Cyber-Theft of American Companies' Trade Data

In an unusual move, the U.S. Justice Department has indicted five Chinese military officers for stealing data from six U.S. companies, a major deviation from policy spearheaded by both the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations.

Since the 1990s, the United States has attempted to deal diplomatically with the Chinese government’s large-scale and unceasing cyber-theft of the industrial secrets and intellectual property of hundreds of American technology companies. The sheer scale of China's cyber pursuit made it essential for the U.S. to shift strategy. That quiet effort largely failed, and the cyber-theft brazenly continued. The staggering scale of China’s cyber-theft campaign, however, made it essential to shift direction. The Justice Department indictment clearly demonstrate a new cyber-theft strategy is underway.

The Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, has distributed “wanted” posters with the pictures of the five Chinese military officers. Holder reportedly told the New York Times that the U.S. would attempt to bring foreign government officials to the U.S. to stand trial for accessing U.S. computer networks to take confidential material helpful to industry competitors.

"The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response," Holder said yesterday.