US charges Chinese university tied to army with conspiracy to violate export laws

BOSTON (REUTERS) - US prosecutors on Tuesday (June 26) charged a Chinese university linked to China's army with conspiring to violate US export laws in order to obtain items from the United States that could be used in anti-submarine warfare.

An indictment filed in federal court in Boston charged China-based Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU), along with Shuren Qin, a Chinese national living in Wellesley, Massachusetts, who was arrested last week.

The indictment also charged LinkOcean Technologies, a Chinese company headed by Qin, whose clients, according to prosecutors, include Chinese research institutes and the naval warfare branch of the People's Liberation Army.

Lawyers for Qin did not respond to a request for comment. Neither the university nor LinkOcean responded to e-mails seeking comment.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had noted the reports.

"From a principled position, China always asks Chinese citizens to respect other countries laws and regulations when abroad. At the same time, we always ask relevant countries to fairly handle such cases in accordance with law, protect Chinese citizens' safety and lawful rights," Mr Lu told reporters.

"What I can tell you here is that the Foreign Ministry and China's consulate in New York will continue to closely pay attention to the development of the case, as well as prepare to provide assistance to China's citizens at any time it should be required."

Qin, 41, was charged with conspiring to commit export violations and visa fraud. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, according to court records.

The indictment said that from 2015 to 2016, Qin exported 78 hydrophones, devices which can be used to monitor sound underwater, to NWPU, which the indictment described as a Chinese military research institute.

Prosecutors have said that because of national security risks, the US Commerce Department requires an export licence to be obtained to ship US goods to NWPU, which works with the People's Liberation Army to advance its military capabilities.