spy.jpgFBI investigators want to charge two men for spying in Silicon Valley to benefit China, and they say it is just the tip of a massive effort by the Chinese government to set up front companies to do this sort of thing.

In the latest case, they say Lan Lee, an American citizen, and Yoefei Ge, a Chinese national, stole chip designs and software from their employers NetLogic Microsystems of Mountain View and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in San Jose, and planned to go into business with the Chinese government. The Mercury News has the story about it today (reg required):

The case highlights China’s role as the main adversary in a complex game of 21st-century espionage where many agents aren’t trained spies in trench coats but businessmen, students and researchers. Silicon Valley, counterintelligence experts say, is ground zero.

“Silicon Valley is a hotbed” of economic espionage, said Don Przybyla, who heads a FBI counterintelligence unit in San Jose. The valley is home to many of the estimated 3,000 Chinese front companies nationwide set up to steal secrets and acquire technology, according to the FBI.

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