The FBI is warning American companies about the increasing threat of corporate espionage, specifically by China. 

In a new video released by the FBI, a Chinese businessman, along with his translator, is seen handing over $30,000 for what he thinks is top-secret information about glass insulation from his American counterpart.

The man on the right, however, was actually an undercover federal agent. The Chinese businessman had promised to eventually hand over $100,000.

The two men pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to steal trade secrets in 2013.

Cases involving corporate espionage have doubled in the past two years, according to the bureau, with 95% of the alleged wrongdoing blamed on China.

"The bureau says with an increasingly unstable world, Chinese and Russian intelligence services are now stepping up their game. And U.S. companies, along with their unsuspecting executives, make very ripe targets," Leland Vittert reported this morning. 

The FBI released the 2012 surveillance footage as part of an outreach campaign to make American business aware of how economic spies usually operate. 

An FBI statement reads:

It’s called economic espionage, and it’s a problem that costs the American economy billions of dollars annually and puts our national security at risk. While it is not a new threat, it is a growing one, and the theft attempts by our foreign competitors and adversaries are becoming more brazen and more varied in their approach.

Historically, economic espionage has been leveled mainly at defense-related and high-tech industries. But recent FBI cases have shown that no industry, large or small, is immune to the threat. Any company with a proprietary product, process, or idea can be a target; any unprotected trade secret is ripe for the taking by those who wish to illegally obtain innovations to increase their market share at a victim company’s expense.

The bureau has also put out a 36-minute video called "The Company Man," which uses actors to show how these spy operations can unfold. 


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The alleged spying is not the only way China has been challenging the United States recently, Vittert noted. 

Chinese hackers are believed to be behind the massive breach of U.S. government personnel records, which exposed the data of more than 22 million people. The Obama administration decided this week not to publicly blame China.

Tensions have also risen between China and U.S. ally Japan over a set of disputed islands. U.S. Navy jets have been harassed by the Chinese military near the islands, which double as Chinese military bases in the South China Sea.

A source familiar with White House policies on China told Vittert that "when it comes to China, there are very few levers we have to keep them in check, short of declaring war - either the economic kind or the real kind."

Watch the full report above. 


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