News   /   Military

Chinese-American electrical engineer faces 219 years in jail for stealing US missile chips

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Department of Justice says 64-year-old Yi-Chi Shih faces 219 years in jail for attempting to steal sensitive US military technology and export it to China. (File photo)

A Chinese-American professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has been found guilty of trying to steal sensitive US military secrets and sending them back to China, charges that might bring him a two-decade prison term.

Yi-Chi Shih, 64, was last week convicted on 18 federal charges of plotting to illegally gain access to certain US-made microchips and export them to China, where they would have been implemented on various military systems from missiles to fighter jets.

The US Department of Justice said that Shih faced maximum sentence of 219 years in prison for running a plan, where he posed as a customer to acquire so-called monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs) from an unnamed US company.

Shih’s co-defendant—Kiet Ahn Mai of Pasadena, California—has already admitted to smuggling charges linked to the plan.

Shih them shipped the MMICs to a Chinese company he once presided over called Chengdu GaStone Technology (CGTC). According to DOJ, the firm was in the process of building its own MMICs production lines.

To export such technologies Shih had to acquire permission from the Commerce Department, which he didn’t do.

The American company targeted by Shih and Mai supplies advanced microchips to the US Air Force, Navy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The US Commerce Department added CGTC to its "Entity List" in 2014, marking it as a national security threat. The move meant that selling any American technology to the company required official authorization.

The DOJ said the company had been "involved in the illicit procurement of commodities and items for unauthorized military end use in China."

The DOJ has yet to specify a date for Shih’s sentencing after finding him guilty of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, mail fraud, wire fraud, false tax returns, false statements to a government agency and conspiracy to commit cybertheft.

US Attorney Nick Hanna said Shih "schemed to export to China semiconductors with military and civilian uses, then he lied about it to federal authorities and failed to report income generated by the scheme on his tax returns."

"My office will enforce laws that protect our nation's intellectual property from being used to benefit foreign adversaries who may compromise our national security," Hanna added.

Over the past few years, the US has stepped up measures to protect American intellectual property against what it calls China's unfair trade tactics. The trend has been accelerated under the presidency of Donald Trump.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku