Chinese ‘spy’ arrested in California for stealing billion-dollar nuclear secrets that could detect missile launches from SPACE

A suspected Chinese spy was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing US nuclear secrets.

Chenguang Gong, 57, of San Jose, California, was said to have transferred more than 3,600 files containing blueprints for sophisticated infrared sensors that detect missile launches.

The stolen information was said to be ‘worth hundreds of millions of dollars’ and ‘would be dangerous to US national security if obtained by international actors,’ according to court documents.

Gong is a China-native who moved to the US around 1993 and became a citizen in 2011.

The US Attorney for the Central District of California said Gong ‘sought to provide the People’s Republic of China with information to aid its military.’

Gong was released on a $2.5 million bond Wednesday following a hearing in San Jose – he is set back in court on February 20 and is facing 10 years in federal prison.

A Chinese 'spy' was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing blueprints for sophisticated infrared sensors that detect nuclear missile launches

A Chinese ‘spy’ was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing blueprints for sophisticated infrared sensors that detect nuclear missile launches

An affidavit released this week details Gong’s case, background and alleged ties to China. His picture has not been released to the public.

The document names the engineer’s former workplace as ‘the Victim Company,’ but Courthouse News Service reported that Gong was employed at Malibu-based HRL Laboratories.

HRL is a research and development laboratory specializing in sensors.

The affidavit said Gong was hired in January 2023, tasked with developing and verifying infrared sensors. He was terminated on April 26, 2023.

Pamela Reese, director of marketing and communications for HRL Laboratories LLC, told Courthouse News Service: ‘When HRL became aware of suspicious activity being conducted by Gong, the company immediately began an investigation, terminated his employment and notified relevant authorities.

‘HRL has continued to cooperate with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations on its case against Gong and will provide ongoing support as needed.’

The document names the engineer's former workplace as 'the Victim Company,' but Courthouse News Service reported that Gong was employed at Malibu-based HRL Laboratories (pictured)

The document names the engineer’s former workplace as ‘the Victim Company,’ but Courthouse News Service reported that Gong was employed at Malibu-based HRL Laboratories (pictured)

According to the affidavit, HRL has developed a Serrano Readout Integrated Circuit, which is ‘an integrated circuit that combines the functionality of infrared search-and-track with infrared countermeasures into a single chip.’

‘The Serrano Readout Integrated Circuit is able to offer both high dynamic range (to track threats in low visibility settings) and time-of-flight capabilities (to analyze how quickly the threat is approaching),’ the statement reads.

The company has also designed what is called the Anaheim Readout Integrated Circuit, which combines several features to reliably detect missile launches and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

The files Gong allegedly stole included designs for space-based systems to detect nuclear missile launches and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles,’ according to the Justice Department.

The transfer is also said to have ‘blueprints for sensors designed to enable US military aircraft to detect incoming heat-seeking missiles and take countermeasures, including by jamming the missiles’ infrared tracking ability.’

The government also noted that Gong had accepted another position at another company that developed similar technologies – and allegedly stole more than 1,800 files.

United States Attorney Martin Estrada said: ‘We will do everything to protect our nation’s security, including from foreign threats.

‘We know that foreign actors, including the PRC [People’s Republic of China], are actively seeking to steal our technology, but we will remain vigilant against this threat by safeguarding the innovations of American businesses and researchers.’

During the investigation, the affidavit states, that the FBI discovered that, between approximately 2014 and 2022, while employed at several major technology companies in the US, ‘Gong submitted numerous applications to ‘Talent Programs’ administered by the People’s Republic of China government.’

The affidavit explained that ‘the PRC has established talent programs through which it identifies individuals located outside the PRC who have expert skills, abilities, and knowledge that would aid in transforming the PRC’s economy, including its military capabilities.’

Gong is a China-native who moved to the US around 1993 and became a citizen in 2011.

Gong is a China-native who moved to the US around 1993 and became a citizen in 2011.

In 2014, while employed at a Dallas-based information technology company Gong sent a business proposal to a contact at a high-tech research institute in China focused on both military and civilian products, the affidavit claims.

‘In his proposal, translated from Chinese, Gong described a plan to produce high-performance analog-to-digital converters similar to those produced by his employer,’ the Justice Department stated.

The FBI executed a search warrant on May 8, 2023 to enter Gong’s residence in Thousand Oaks , California.

Authorities said they recovered ‘several digital devices containing hundreds of documents marked as confidential or proprietary belonging to the information technology company,’ the affidavit alleges. 

Gong is said to have submitted another Talen Program application in September 2020, proposing to develop ‘low light/night vision’ image sensors for use in military night vision goggles and civilian applications. 

The Chinese native allegedly traveled to his homeland several times, seeking funding to develop sophisticated analog-to-digital converters. 

The affidavit showed that the application noted Gong could develop ‘high-performance analog-to-digital converters’ in China, which ‘had military applications.’

The documented continued to explain that the technology could ‘determine the accuracy and range of radar systems and that [m]issile navigation systems also often use radar front-end systems.’

In a 2019 email, translated from Chinese, Gong remarked that he ‘took a risk’ by traveling to China to participate in the Talent Programs ‘because [he] worked for…an American military industry company’ and thought he could ‘do something’ to contribute to China’s ‘high-end military integrated circuits.’

Gong is believe to have been born in Zhejiang province in China.

His resume stated that he ‘earned a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University and completed some PhD work at Stanford University,’ according to teh affidavit.

‘From the late 1990s to 2023, Gong worked for a number of prominent  US technology companies, as well as an international defense, aerospace, and security company,’ the document continued.