Mr Xu’s case – the first time the US has extradited a suspected Chinese spy – indicates the US is unlikely to back down on China anytime soon. For years, the US has indicted in absentia alleged Chinese spies amid growing allegations and evidence that Beijing has been using espionage and hacking to modernise its country.
“This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government’s direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States,” said Bill Priestap, an assistant director with the FBI.
There is “zero” chance Beijing will ever allow extradition of its citizens from its own soil, said Scott Harold, Asia Pacific policy director at nonprofit think tank RAND Corp.
The US and China do not have an extradition treaty, and Chinese authorities generally always deny allegations of spying and hacking as it did again on Thursday.
US officials insist such activity, however, is rampant and damaging to American security interests. Mr Xu, for instance, invited US engineers and experts at key companies on all expenses paid trips to present talks in China, asking them to meet local scientists and to bring specific documents with them.
Such technical experts are often targets for Chinese hacking and spying given their proximity to proprietary information, and Mr Xu’s activities should not come as a surprise. “In a world where everything is connected … you can be hacked; it can be stolen,” said Mr Harold.