SeattleTimes has an article on US citizen Xue Feng being sentenced for 8 more years on July 4 for stealing state secrets regarding oil wells.
China uses harsh tactics to keep secrets under wraps
China's sentencing on Monday of an American geologist, who has been jailed for the past 2 ½ years, to an additional eight years in prison for stealing state secrets is another demonstration of how the Chinese government will use the legal system to protect the business interests and competitive edge of its state-run firms.
SHANGHAI — China's sentencing on Monday of an American geologist, who has been jailed for the past 2 ½ years, to an additional eight years in prison for stealing state secrets is another demonstration of how the Chinese government will use the legal system to protect the business interests and competitive edge of its state-run firms.
Xue Feng, 44, a naturalized American who works for a U.S. energy-consulting firm, was charged with trying to buy a database that reportedly showed the location and condition of oil and wells belonging to China's government-owned National Petroleum Corp.
Part of being Green is the valuing of energy resources.
In other countries, such information would normally not be considered particularly sensitive. But China in recent years has shown an increasing willingness to use its catchall state secrecy laws — usually invoked in matters of national security — to protect what it considers the trade secrets of its state-run companies, particularly in the all-important energy sector
As extreme as some may consider China's actions how many environmental activist groups would want the power to put in jail what they define as crimes against the environment?
Given the sentencing was on July 4 there is more to this than a simple sentencing.
One possibility is on Before it's news.
While it is still unclear whether Xue actually committed the alleged act, oil industry espionage is hardly anything new.
Highlighting “cyberspies” are increasingly targeting strategically important businesses, The Christian Science Monitor did an in-depth report in January that at least three U.S. major oil companies--Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Marathon Oil--were the target of a series of cyber attacks.
The “hacking” was aimed at the valuable “bid data” detailing the quantity, value, and location of oil discoveries worldwide. Oil companies typically spend many millions of dollars to find the next big profitable discovery. Other countries or competitors may very well save considerable time and money and gain a competitive edge, or advantage in a bidding war, by employing cyberspies to steal such valuable information.
Although the Monitor article suggested China could be the culprit behind the cyber attacks on the U.S. oil companies, there's no real evidence of China's involvement.
With the country’s economy consuming huge amounts of energy, China has been among the most aggressive in grabbing available resource base around the world. As such, it is probably not a surprise that China will be inclined to impose harsh punishment to anyone that Beijing perceives as undermining this endeavor.