With the U.S. and China currently meeting to settle the ongoing trade war, the FBI has arrested and accused a Chinese national working for Apple of stealing technology and trade secrets for a Chinese competitor.
Spying, intellectual property and tech theft by China is at the center of the standoff between Washington and Beijing in the ongoing tariffs battle. China has a plan in place, Made in China 2025, to become a world leader in high-tech fields like robotics and autonomous vehicles by 2025.
The U.S. is of course worried about its own leadership in the fields being eroded.
The employee, Jizhong Chen, was seen taking photographs in a sensitive work area and another employee reported it.
Per NBC Bay Area:
Chen, according to the complaint, allowed Apple Global Security employees to search his personal computer, where they found thousands of files containing Apple’s intellectual property, including manuals, schematics, and diagrams. Security personnel also found on the computer about a hundred photographs taken inside an Apple building.
Apple learned Chen recently applied for a job at a China-based autonomous vehicle company that is a direct competitor of Apple’s project, according to the complaint. A photo found on Chen’s computer, which Apple provided to the FBI, showed an assembly drawing of an Apple-designed wiring harness for an autonomous vehicle.
Chen was arrested just one day before he was scheduled to fly to China, according to the complaint.
Last July, former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang was arrested by federal agents for allegedly stealing proprietary information related to the company’s autonomous vehicle project. Zhang was accused of trying to bring Apple’s trade secrets to China-based XMotors.
“Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “We are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI.”
The FBI declined to comment on the story.