TAIPEI — A US federal jury in Florida has convicted Wenxia "Wency" Man of attempting to export defense items to China without a license.
Man, a Chinese national and naturalized US citizen, was arrested in September. She was found guilty June 9 of conspiring to evade "US export laws by agreeing to illegally acquire and send to China fighter jet engines, a highly sophisticated military drone," said a US Department of Justice news release.
According to the news release, between 2011 and 2013, Man conspired with Xinsheng Zhang, now a "fugitive" living in China, to illegally acquire and export a variety of defense items, including Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines for the F-22 Raptor fighter; General Electric F110-GE-132 engines for the F-16 fighter jet; and the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Predator UAV.
Man referred to Zhang as a "technology spy" who worked on behalf of the Chinese military and had a special interest in "stealth technology."
Man was vice-president of the family-run AFM Microelectronics Corp. in California. The company made advanced capacitors and had an office in Shenzhen, China.
According to Chinese-language websites, AFM was affiliated with the Xifei Aviation Components Company. Xifei's company website states that the company is an independent research and development outfit supporting the People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Armaments Department, PLA General Staff Department and the PLA Air Force.
The company could not be reached for comment.
Man faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison with sentencing scheduled for August. However, past criminal cases of a similar nature, including the recent Su Bin case involving the theft of F-22 and F-35 secrets, result in roughly three-year sentences.
As one US defense industry source said in anonymity, there really was no way Man could have actually acquired a large fighter engine and shipped it to China. She was an "amateur."