US authorities have charged three Tianjin University professors and three other Chinese citizens with economic espionage, claiming that they stole sensitive US technology to help Chinese universities and government-controlled companies.
One of the six defendants, Professor Hao Zhang, was arrested on Saturday when he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to speak at a conference. The other suspects are still in China.
Mr Zhang and fellow professor Wei Pang are accused of stealing information about a technology used in smartphones, tablets and GPS devices from their US employers, Skyworks Solutions in Massachusetts and Avago Technologies in Colorado, respectively. The technology also has military applications.
The charges represent the latest sign of the US ratcheting up pressure on China's alleged efforts to spy on US companies and steal their trade secrets through cyber attacks or traditional espionage techniques.