The US government is reportedly filing cases of suspected economic espionage against a Chinese state-owned company and a Taiwanese tech firm.

The US Justice Department announced on Thursday that it had unsealed a criminal indictment against Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) and Chinese state-owned Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. The foreign companies, together with three Taiwanese nationals, are being sued by the US government over economic espionage allegations.

The indictment, filed last September 27, claimed that the two companies, through a former Micron executive Stephen Chen, collaborated to steal trade secrets from the American semiconductor company, Micron Technology Inc.

The US government also filed a case to stop UMC and Jinhua from importing any product to the United States that the two companies manufactured using these trade secrets.

To date, one of the major complaints of the Trump administration against China is intellectual property theft. This led to a trade war between the two superpower nations, slapping each other’s imported goods with multi-billion dollar tariffs and rattling the global market.

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The US to Stop Economic Espionage

“Chinese economic espionage against the United States has been increasing, and it has been increasing rapidly. I am here to say that enough is enough,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a press briefing in Washington. “It is time for China to join the community of lawful nations. International trade has been good for China, but the cheating must stop.”

Over the years, US chip makers have regularly accused Chinese companies of poor intellectual property protection and theft. Just last week, the US Commerce Department issued an order banning US companies from exporting supplies to Jinhua.

“When a foreign company engages in activity contrary to our national security interests, we will take strong action to protect our national security,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said in a statement. “Placing Jinhua on the entity list will limit its ability to threaten the supply chain for essential components in our military systems.”

Jinhua has not issued any comment regarding the case, but one of the company’s representative said that Jinhua would issue a statement at the right time. UMC also expressed its regret for failing to discuss the matter with the US authorities but said that it would cooperate and respond to the allegations accordingly.

Do you believe that stricter measures and sanctions should be imposed by the government to protect US companies from trade secret theft and economic espionage?

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