What happened: An electrical engineer and University of California, Los Angeles professor was found guilty of conspiring to export semiconductor technology used in missiles. Yi-Chih Shih’s partner, Kiet Ahn Mai, posed as a customer to obtain the key technology for an American chipmaker before sending it to a company in China that has been on the US entity list since 2014. According to a press release by the US Justice Department, Shih was found guilty by a jury in a Los Angeles court for 18 counts, including illegal exports and fraud, on June 26 and could face up to 219 years in prison.
Why it’s important: Trade secret theft is at the core of the US-China trade war. Washington claims that Beijing has built its burgeoning tech sector based on technology taken from US companies. Huawei lost a case of IP theft two weeks ago in Texas, and is facing another one. Florida-based Magic Leap has sued an employee of Chinese Nreal over an AR headset. Some in Washington meanwhile have voiced concern that Chinese students studying at American universities are contributing to tech transfer.