Woman Faces 150 Years For Smuggling Space Equipment to China


A Chinese woman living in California was arrested Tuesday for allegedly smuggling more than $100,000 worth of high-tech space equipment to China, Reuters reports.

Si Chen, or Cathy Chen, could face up to 150 years in prison if convicted of all 14 counts levied against her by an April decision from a federal grand jury. Chen is accused of conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements on an immigration application, using a forged passport, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which controls the export of certain goods and technology from the United States.

Chen, a Chinese national, allegedly smuggled components commonly used in military communications jammers as well as devices used in space communications between March 2013 and December 2015. She allegedly falsified the export paperwork, valuing the equipment at $500 instead of its real value at more than $100,000.

Chen pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles district court and had a bond hearing Thursday. Her trial is scheduled for July 18.

She is only the most recent example of China’s frequent attempts to copy American aviation technology. Two others have been convicted within the last year of similar crimes.

Ying Lin, an ex-Air China employee was convicted in September of smuggling packages onto flights from New York to China on behalf of Chinese military personnel.

And last spring, Su Bin, a Chinese businessman, confessed to colluding with two individuals in China to steal U.S. military secrets from defense facilities between 2008 and 2014. Su Bin confessed to working with two Chinese agents to steal information on the American F-22 and F-35 jets.

China is suspected of using the stolen information to develop its own knock-off F-35, and there is much evidence to support the claim.

Chinese cyber criminals allegedly breached U.S. systems in 2009 and illegally acquired information on the F-35 program. The National Security Administration revealed that the intruders stole over 50 terabytes of data — the equivalent of over five Libraries of Congress — on the F-35 and other U.S. aircraft.

Furthermore, Su Bin reportedly told his handlers that the tech he stole would “allow us to rapidly catch up with U.S. levels” and would let China “stand easily on the giant’s shoulders.”

Before China’s J-31, the American F-35 was the only fifth-generation fighter on the market. The Chinese company responsible for the J-31 said it hopes the aircraft will “put an end to some nations’ monopolies on the fifth-generation fighter jet.”

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