More than a week after Chinese national Hongin Tan pleaded guilty in Tulsa U.S. District Court to stealing Phillips 66 trade secrets from the Bartlesville lab where he worked, another Chinese national has been charged similarly in Missouri.
Haitao Xiang, 42, an employee of Monsanta and its Climate Corp subsidiary from 2008 to 2017 was arrested this week as he tried to board a flight to China while carrying proprietary farming software from the company.
The U.S. Justice Department announced the arrest according to Reuters.
“The indictment alleges another example of the Chinese government using Talent Plans to encourage employees to steal intellectual property from their U.S. employers,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said.
China announced in 2008 its “Thousand Talents Plan” to recruit scientific researchers, which authorities in Washington have called a threat to U.S. national security.
“Xiang promoted himself to the Chinese government based on his experience at Monsanto,” Demers said. “Within a year of being selected as a Talent Plan recruit, he quit his job, bought a one-way ticket to China, and was caught at the airport with a copy of the company’s proprietary algorithm before he could spirit it away,” he said.
The U.S. has long accused China of stealing intellectual property and technology, an accusation that is one of the core issues in the trade war between the two countries.
China did not comment on the specifics of the individual case, but repeated its denial of stealing intellectual property.
“No matter if it’s a Chinese citizen or an American citizen, if they’ve violated a law, if the Americans have fairly handled the case according to law, then we have no objection,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular press briefing Friday.
“But we resolutely oppose the U.S. using this single case as a pretext for saying China has groups that organize and plan steal intellectual property from the U.S. China’s technological achievements did not come from theft.”
Xiang is being held in Randolph County Jail in Illinois as he awaits a judge’s decision on bail, Selig said. He said Xiang, who has lived in the United States for 17 years and has a wife and daughter living in the country, is not a flight risk.
In Tulsa, Hongjin Tan awaits sentencing after making his guilty plea earlier this month where he had been charged with trying to walk out the door with nearly $1 billion in Phillips 66 trade secrets.