Self-driving espionage: US companies accelerate lawsuits against China

Tesla , Apple and GE among those who say secrets were stolen

Nikkei Asian Review
Date: April 07, 2019
By: Takashi Kawakami, Nikkei staff writer

GUANGZHOU — A mounting string of allegations from the U.S. paint a damning portrait of how China’s advanced technology sector has rapidly grown due to corporate espionage.

Tesla, the latest to lodge a complaint, said in a lawsuit filed in late March that a former autonomous-driving engineer, Cao Guangzhi, illicitly obtained a trove of source code that he handed over to his new employer, the Chinese electric-vehicle startup Xpeng Motors.

This echoes criminal charges brought by the FBI against ex-Apple employee Zhang Xiaolang last July. Zhang is suspected of leaving the U.S. company with proprietary data on self-driving technology, including a 25-page schematic manual, which he gave to his new bosses at Xpeng. This January, the FBI charged yet another ex-Apple employee, Chen Jizhong, with transferring driverless trade secrets to an unidentified Chinese rival.

These are just a fraction of the corporate espionage cases involving Chinese persons and entities since last summer. In October, a senior Chinese intelligence official was arrested for trying to steal tech secrets from General Electric. The U.S. Justice Department indicted Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit in November, and Huawei Technologies in January.    [FULL  STORY]