In May of this year, an 84-year-old inmate in a North Carolina federal prison died from Covid-19. Dongfan Greg Chungʼs death barely registered on the local news, but Chung held a unique status in U.S. judicial history: in 2009, he became the first person to ever be convicted of economic espionage.
Born in Liaoning Province, Chung fled with his family to Taiwan when he was 10 years old during the Chinese Civil War. He moved to the U.S. in the 1960s, becoming a citizen and settling down in Orange County, California, with his wife and two sons. He worked as an aerospace engineer for Rockwell International, and the unit he worked for was bought by Boeing in 1996. His life appeared relatively simple until one day in 1985 when a letter from a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) arrived, inviting him to visit China. AVIC makes the Peopleʼs Liberation Armyʼs fighter jets, and the subsidiary wanted Chung to discuss a range of topics, including aircraft fatigue design and helicopter rotors. Chung eagerly said yes.
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