Tao Li, 39, tried to procure “highly sensitive” U.S. military technology without a license, a violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the Justice Department (DOJ) said.
Li was arrested at the Los Angeles airport in September 2018 while traveling from China to Arizona to meet with an undercover agent, according to the DOJ.
He was sentenced this week to more than three years in prison, as well as three years of supervised release. He had previously pleaded guilty to the charges.
Between December 2016 and January 2018, Li, who resided in China, worked with other Chinese nationals to purchase radiation-hardened power amplifiers and supervisory circuits and illegally export them from the U.S. to China, according to the DOJ.
The electronic components Li hoped to obtain are capable of withstanding high levels of radiation and extreme heat, rendering them particularly useful in military and space devices, the department said.
Li used multiple fake names to contact people in the U.S. in order to obtain the technology. He and his co-conspirators also agreed to pay a “risk fee” to export the components to China, wiring money from China to a bank account in Arizona, the DOJ said.
“This case is one of many involving illegal attempts to take U.S. technology to China,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said.
The electronic components sought by Li could have made a “significant contribution” to a foreign nation’s military and space programs, the DOJ said.