Friday, August 31, 2012

Global Impact: Chinese-Born Trade Secret Thief Gets Outrageous, Slap-on-the-Wrist Sentence


The four-year federal prison term that software engineer Hanjuan Jin, 41, received on Wednesday (August 29) for stealing trade secrets from Motorola can only be described as outrageous and an utter slap-on-the-wrist, which hardly serves as a deterrent for other Chinese-born US citizens who fail to take their allegiance to the United State very seriously.

COMMENT: Even though federal inmates do actual time sentenced, in contrast to most state courts in the US, Jin could have received a sentence upwards of 30 years. 

Jin, a naturalized American, was arrested in 2007 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as she prepared to board a flight to China with a one-way ticket and more than a thousand Motorola documents in her possession.

As prosecutors built their case against Jin, they alleged that she was a part of a much broader Chinese-run industrial spying effort that posed a threat to the country's economic prosperity.
Jin worked for Motorola as a trusted employee for over nine years, yet deceptively she intended all along to share the Motorola's trade secrets with Sun Kaisens, a Chinese telecommunications company and supplier to the Chinese military that Jin worked for at the very same time, a fact that Jin carefully concealed from Motorola.
It is noteworthy to point out that the majority of defendants convicted under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA), which also proscribes penalties for trade secret theft, have been Chinese born, suggesting that it is part of the PRC's strategy to steal as many trade secrets from the US as possible, knowing full well the limits of the EEA.
Clearly, it is time for the EEA to be amended by Congress to proscribe lengthy prison terms   as a deterrent for US citizens who fail to take their allegiance to the US seriously. 
Given the negative impact that economic espionage by China is having on the US, politically, militarily and fiscally, it would have been helpful to all Americans if the US Department of Justice had explained why Jin only received a four-year sentence. 

On a much sadder note, one can only hope that the DOJ does not conduct a return on investment analysis on each of its convictions, for in the Jin case, the taxpayers definitely got shortchanged.