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Chinese National Handed 3.5 Years in Prison for Attempt to Obtain Maritime Raiding Craft for Reverse Engineering

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: July 19, 2021
Philippine marines and civil personnel disembark from a rubber boat on May 15, 2017 in Casiguran Province, Philippines. Philippines and U.S. troops held the annual 'Balikatan' (shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military exercises with an approximately 6,000 participating troops. Nanjing resident Ge Songtao was sentenced to 42 months in U.S. federal prison for attempts to fraudulently obtain military-grade raiding craft for reverse engineering and export to the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army. (Image: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

A Chinese national has been sentenced to 42 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges arising after his company lied to manufacturers during an attempted purchase of military-grade combat-use seacraft with multi-fuel engines for export to China.

According to a July 16 press release by the U.S. Department of Justice, 51-year-old Ge Songtao was sentenced to three years and six months in prison in addition to civil forfeiture of nearly $115,000 for entering false export data in an attempt to “export maritime raiding craft and engines to China fraudulently.”

He faced up to 15 years in U.S. federal prison according to a November of 2020 statement by the DOJ.

Ge, formally a resident of Nanjing, was Chairman of Shanghai Breeze Technology Co, a company the DOJ says began looking in 2018 for a supplier for “U.S.-manufactured combat rubber raiding craft equipped with engines that could operate using gasoline, diesel fuel or jet fuel. These vessels and multi-fuel engines are used by the U.S. military and can be operated after being launched from a submerged submarine or dropped into the ocean by an aircraft.” 

“No comparable engine is manufactured in China.”

Associated Press reported during the sentencing hearing, “U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger found that Ge Songtao was planning to reverse-engineer the engines and supply his own version to the Chinese military.”

The DOJ says when Ge instructed his employee, co-defendant Yang Yang, to attempt to order seven of the craft, the manufacturer suggested they instead purchase cheaper, retail-level gasoline-only engine models instead, “To induce the manufacturer to sell this equipment, Yang falsely represented that her customer was an entity called United Vision Limited in Hong Kong, rather than Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. in Shanghai.” 

According to the press release, “One of Yang’s Chinese co-workers had told her that American manufacturers would be more likely to sell to an entity in Hong Kong rather than one in mainland China.” 

“By misrepresenting what company was buying the equipment and where it was located, Yang caused the entry of false information in the Department of Commerce’s Automated Export System in violation of federal law.”

Ge then raised even more red flags when he wired $114,834.27 to another company in Hong Kong, Belt Consulting Company Limited, and had that company pay for the transaction. 

The Justice Department said Ge then “coordinated plans to send an employee to Hong Kong to receive the raiding craft and engines and transship them to mainland China,” but authorities intercepted the transaction, arresting Ge and his cohorts before the units could be shipped to the mainland. 

In September of 2020, Yang pleaded guilty to the same charges and was given a lighter “time-served sentence or the equivalent of approximately 14 months’ imprisonment.” 

Another co-Defendant, Zheng Yan, pleaded guilty in August and was handed a “time-served sentence or the equivalent of approximately 6 months’ imprisonment and 11 months’ home-detention.”

The DOJ says a trial for the final co-defendant, Fan Yang, is scheduled to begin August 2.