China Wind Tech Firm Hit with $59 Million Fine for Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets

A picture taken on March 5, 2014 off the coast of Agucadoura, near Porto, shows a 'Windfloat,' or floating wind turbine
Marc Preel/AFP/Getty Images

A District judge ruled Friday Chinese turbine manufacturer Sinovel Wind Group Co. must pay $59 million in a plot to steal trade secrets from a U.S. rival.

In January, a federal court in Wisconsin convicted Sinovel of stealing trade secrets from AMSC and nearly putting it out of business.

“U.S. District Judge James Peterson ordered the Chinese company to pay $1.5 million in fines and $57.5 million in restitution at a sentencing hearing Friday in Madison, Wisconsin, according to the Justice Department. American Superconductor claimed it suffered at least $800 million in losses from Sinovel’s scheme to pilfer its technology,” Bloomberg reports.

Federal prosecutors accused the Chinese wind turbine maker of conspiring with an ex-AMSC employee in 2011 to swipe proprietary code from the U.S. company. Sinovel later reneged on an $800 million agreement with AMSC to purchase turbine management solutions, including a software system designed to regulate electrical grid connections named Low Voltage Ride Through.

The Trump administration has accused China of deploying predatory tactics in a push to overtake U.S. technological dominance. These tactics include cyber theft and requiring American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to China’s market.

“The Chinese are bad trading partners because they steal intellectual property,” said Derek Scissors, a China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

in 2014, a Pennsylvania grand jury indicted five officers in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on charges of hacking into the computers of Westinghouse, US Steel and other major American companies to steal information that would benefit their Chinese competitors.

The United States hiked tariffs on Chinese imports Friday and Beijing said it immediately retaliated in a dispute between the world’s two biggest economies that President Donald Trump says he is prepared to escalate.

Washington increased tariffs at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, a first step in what could become an accelerating series of tariffs.

On Thursday, President Trump told reporters who flew with him to Montana for a campaign rally that higher tariffs on an additional $16 billion in Chinese goods are set to take effect in two weeks.

After that, the hostilities could intensify: President Trump said the U.S. is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports — and then $300 billion more — if Beijing does not yield to U.S. demands and continues to retaliate.

That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially $550 billion — more than the $506 billion in goods that China shipped to the United States last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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