The latest confrontation from the Trump administration is another allegation of economic espionage, this time directed at a Chinese state-owned enterprise and a Taiwanese firm, both of which the USA says stole secrets from chipmaker Micron. One, according to prosecutors, downloaded more than 900 confidential and proprietary Micron files before he left and stored them in personal cloud storage and on external hard drives so that he could access them at his new job with UMC. Chen helped negotiate the agreement, and in early 2017 became president of Jinhua in charge of its DRAM factory, prosecutors said. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has also initiated a civil case in the Northern District of California.
The indictment released in the United States district court in San Jose, California alleges that three former Micron employees in Taiwan - Stephen Chen Zhengkun, He Jianting and Kenny Wang Yungming - joined UMC in 2015 and 2016 with the express plan to hand over to the company Micron's design and manufacturing processes for specific dynamic random access memory (DRAM) semiconductors.
The prosecution comes amid heightened trade tensions between China and the U.S., and as American officials raise alarms about the threat of Chinese economic espionage.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement with comments published on the US Justice Department's website.
USA efforts to counter that espionage are multifaceted, Bowdich said. "It's time for China to join the community of lawful nations".
The DOJ also announced an initiative to prevent further theft of trade secrets by aggressively pursuing individuals suspected of crimes and identifying industry insiders suspected of being "co-opted" by Chinese agents to aid technology theft. "This is a brazen scheme", Sessions said.
In recent years Washington has stepped up its fight against China's alleged ongoing economic espionage programme to obtain all sorts of advanced technologies, from agriculture to heavy manufacturing.
Now, though, UMC itself stands accused of outright theft, with the US Department of Justice filing charges against it and Chinese chip maker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit.
But it's this Chinese government's interference to protect its investments as part of its Made in China 2025 economic plan that got United States authorities to act, first through an export ban, and now through today's charges. On Tuesday, the Justice Department also announced charges against two Chinese intelligence officers and a team of hackers for stealing sensitive commercial aviation secrets and data.
The United States also Thursday sued to block the transfer of trade secrets and to prevent the companies from exporting to the US any products that they manufacturing by exploiting stolen information. President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products in an effort to narrow the US trade deficit with China.
"International trade has been good for China, but the cheating must stop".
Three of them are alleged to have connived to bring Micron's trade secrets with them.
Sessions noted that the China threat has been overshadowed in the press by threats from Russian Federation and terrorism but has grown "more risky".
The attorney general said the problems posed by the Chinese government must be solved. It wants to keep working with China without sharing key technologies.
Sessions accused China of reneging on a 2015 agreement between Xi and former U.S. President Barack Obama that neither country would conduct economic espionage over the internet for the objective of "providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors".