Apple Concerned Ex-Employees Accused of Theft of Trade Secrets Will Flee to China

Apple today asked a federal court to continue monitoring two Chinese-born former employees accused of stealing trade secrets, citing "deep concerns" that the two could attempt to flee the country before their trials.

According to Reuters, prosecutors argued that Xiaolang Zhang and Jizhong Chen should have their locations monitored because they are flight risks.


Zhang was charged with theft of trade secrets back in July 2018 after he attempted to steal data on the car project that Apple has in the works. Prior to when he was caught, Zhang worked on Apple's compute team, designing and testing circuit boards to analyze sensor data in autonomous vehicles.

Zhang had "broad access to secure and confidential internal databases," and after announcing his plans to leave Apple for China-based XMotors, an investigation was launched due to suspicious behavior. Just ahead of leaving, Zhang accessed sensitive content that included prototypes, power requirements, low voltage requirements, battery systems, and more. Zhang was ultimately arrested at the airport in July 2018 attempting to leave for China.

In a separate incident, Apple caught Jizhong Chen, another Apple employee, taking photographs "in a sensitive workspace." After launching an investigation, Apple security officials found that Chen's personal computer contained "thousands" of Apple Car-related files, including manuals, schematics, photographs, and diagrams.

Chen had recently applied for a position with a China-based autonomous vehicle company and was arrested for theft of trade secrets one day before he was set to fly to China. Recently, it was also discovered that Chen had classified files from the Patriot missile program that belonged to Raytheon, his ex-employer.

Both men have been monitored electronically after being released on bail ahead of their trials, and they are now seeking to have that monitoring end. The lawyer for the men has said that they have not shown signs of violating pre-trial conditions thus far and did not actually share Apple's intellectual property with a third party.

The lawyer has also argued that each man was going to China to visit relatives, not to escape prosecution, and that both have strong ties to the United States. Chen and Zhang are both facing multi-year prison terms and hefty fines if convicted.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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6 weeks ago
China is our enemy. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.
Rating: 81 Votes
6 weeks ago
Maybe apple should pay a little more for domestic talent?
Rating: 42 Votes
6 weeks ago
This is a pretty new thread and I’m already seeing a lot of worrying, xenophobic stuff. These people should be monitored and they shouldn’t be allowed to evade the trial, but I think that a lot of the anti-Chinese sentiment I am seeing here is borderline bigotry. The Chinese government does subjugate their people and their methods are highly disagreeable and wrong, but I don’t think that the people in this comment thread should twist these regrettable realities of living under Chinese governance into an argument impeding Chinese people from working at Apple.
Rating: 42 Votes
6 weeks ago
Stop hiring Chinese nationals. Seriously, I'm amazed that Tim Cook and team are willfully ignorant to the shameless, brazen stealing of Western intellectual property by the Chinese. It's the cultural norm for them.

The Chinese Communist Party is only too happy to exploit this weakness in America's culture of acceptance and non-judgement. Stop being suckers!
Rating: 37 Votes
6 weeks ago


This is a pretty new thread and I’m already seeing a lot of worrying, xenophobic stuff. These people should be monitored and they shouldn’t be allowed to evade the trial, but I think that a lot of the anti-Chinese sentiment I am seeing here is borderline bigotry. The Chinese government does subjugate their people and their methods are wrong, but I don’t think that the people in this comment thread should take these regrettable realities of living under Chinese governance as an argument against the Chinese people who wish to work for Apple.


Wow you're pretty native. What bigotry? Who's being racist here? If you don't know how much Chinese companies have stolen in terms of intellectual property, designs, etc, you've been living under a very large rock.

You are also missing the point here, nobody is pointing out that ALL Chinese people are spies or technology thieves, but there's a chance that people on work visas or otherwise non American citizens or reisdents could be.

And it's a very, very serious threat.
Rating: 32 Votes
6 weeks ago


Wow you're pretty native. What bigotry? Who's being racist here? If you don't know how much Chinese companies have stolen in terms of intellectual property, designs, etc, you've been living under a very large rock.

You are also missing the point here, nobody is pointing out that ALL Chinese people are spies or technology thieves, but there's a chance that people on work visas or otherwise non American citizens or reisdents could be.

And it's a very, very serious threat.


A statement like “China is our enemy” is a pretty jingoistic, unsettling piece of rhetoric: it’s a dangerous, dubious argument which people have used throughout history to justify many disastrous policies and conflicts.
Rating: 32 Votes
6 weeks ago


China is our enemy. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.


As a Chinese, I am super sad to hear you saying this. However, no every Chinese are like them.
Rating: 24 Votes
6 weeks ago
That'll teach them (or any other technology company) to hire Chinese nationals.
Rating: 23 Votes
6 weeks ago
so predictable... not all chinese are spies, but oh so many spies caught are chinese. I personally caught a chinese researcher copying files from a server he had no rights to.
Rating: 20 Votes
6 weeks ago


Or maybe more thorough background checks.

A US senator's personal driver of over 10 years was found to be a Chinese spy. If our government can't even do background checks reliably, I think apple wouldn't be any more successful
Rating: 18 Votes

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