The FBI stated in the complaint that Xu and other MSS spies targeted American technical experts, including those with GE Aviation, and paid for visits to China where they were coaxed into providing valuable technical information about US aircraft and space systems.
"Xu is a deputy division director in the Zhengzhou province of the Chinese Ministry of State Security, or MSS", stated Benjamin Glassman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Top law enforcement officials picked up that theme on Wednesday.
"We can not tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower", Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers added. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense".
We can not tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower.
Xu made his initial appearance in federal court in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Wednesday.
Dow industrials sink 831 points as tech companies plunge
US stocks are plunging toward their worst loss in six months on Wednesday as technology companies continue to take sharp losses. Futures point to a 0.5% fall for the S&P 500 , a 0.5% decline for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a 0.7% drop for Nasdaq.
The ministry of state security is China's intelligence and security agency, responsible for counterintelligence, foreign intelligence and political security.
Prosecutors said from 2013 to his arrest in April, Xu would recruit experts from aviation companies to travel to China under the false pretense they would give educational presentations at a university. Xu worked with a conspirator, unnamed in the indictment, who contacted an engineer of the firm past year and offered to pay for a trip to China so the employee could talk about his work in connection with an event sponsored by a science and technology association, according to prosecutors. Xu later followed up with the employee asking for specific technical information and then asked the employee to meet in Europe, where he wanted the worker to provide additional information from GE.
After the presentation, Mr. Xu and the employee remained in communication, authorities said. He was then arrested by Belgian authorities, acting at the behest of the US, in April. Some of those defendants were charged with trying to steal everything from wind turbine technology to engineered rice and corn, which provides a sense of the breadth of what USA officials say Beijing is looking to acquire.
Demers said the case was a "significant economic espionage matter" and was the latest proof that China is trying to steal information from American companies.
Often, the Justice Department issues indictments that charge people still in China.
The alleged spy faces up to 25 years in prison, and his case is believed to be the first time a Chinese intelligence officer has been extradited from a third country to go on trial in the US.
Assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, Bill Priestap, said the "unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States".