Chinese national who applied to US Army Reserves convicted of espionage, perjury

Ji Chaoqun was found guilty of giving false statements to US Army while attempting to join reserves.

A Chinese national has been found guilty of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government by a federal jury in Chicago. 

Ji Chaoqun, 31, was found guilty of the charge, as well as one count of making false statements to the U.S. Army. Chaoqun remained in regular contact with Chinese government officials while living and working in Chicago. 

Chaoqun kept Chinese officials abreast of information regarding individuals targeted for recruitment by the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security.

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Delegates wear face masks for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 21, 2020.

Delegates wear face masks for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)

"Ji, a Chinese citizen residing in Chicago, was tasked by Xu Yanjun, a Deputy Division Director within the Ministry of State Security, with providing an intelligence officer with biographical information on certain individuals for possible recruitment by the JSSD," the Department of Justice wrote in its report.

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"This tasking was part of an effort by the Jiangsu provincial department to obtain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies being developed by companies within the U.S.," the report continued. "Xu was convicted last year in the Southern District of Ohio of conspiracy and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets."

The Chinese national was able to enlist in 2016 via the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program – an initiative allowing U.S. military offices to hire legal aliens deemed sufficiently useful for service.

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U.S. Army soldiers in training.

U.S. Army soldiers in training. (U.S. Army)

"In his application to participate in the MAVNI program, Ji falsely stated that he had not had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years," the Department of Justice wrote. "In a subsequent interview with a U.S. Army officer, Ji again failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with a foreign intelligence officer."

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Chinese espionage remains one of the most prominent threats to national security as officials continue investigating past and ongoing infiltration by Chinese spies.

China has engaged in a decades-long campaign to insert and recruit allied researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, according to a report from information security firm Strider Technologies.

The report asserted that between 1987 and 2021, at least 162 scientists who passed through the nuclear research lab returned and worked with the Chinese government.