Chinese spy who was living in Chicago, convicted by federal jury

A federal jury in Chicago has found a Chinese national guilty of acting as an agent of a foreign government after a two-week trial.

Ji Chaoquin, 31, was found guilty of the charge, as well as one count of making false statements to the U.S. Army. He was acquitted on two counts of wire fraud, prosecutors said.

Chaoquin was living in Chicago when he was arrested in 2018 for allegedly spying, including by helping with the recruitment of U.S. engineers, defense contractors and scientists for intelligence services in China, according to federal prosecutors.


He allegedly worked at the direction of high-ranking intelligence officials with the People's Republic of China and was given the task of providing information about eight people for possible recruitment.

"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.," prosecutors said in a statement. "Xu was convicted last year in the Southern District of Ohio of conspiracy and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets."

A Chinese flag is seen through bushes. (David Hogsholt/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Ji came to the U.S. in 2013 on a student visa to study engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 2016 under a program that allows some immigrants living in the country legally to serve in the military if their skills could be vital to U.S. interests.

"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," prosecutors said. "In a subsequent interview with a U.S. Army officer, Ji again failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with a foreign intelligence officer."

Chaoquin faces up to l0 years in federal prison for acting as an unregistered Chinese agent, and up to five years each for conspiracy and making false statements, according to prosecutors.

A sentencing date has not yet been set, prosecutors said.

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.

The Associated Press and Fox News contributed to this report.