Chinese national, in Brooklyn Federal Court, admits smuggling high-tech fiber to China

August 19, 2013 From U.S. Department of Justice
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On Monday, at the Brooklyn federal courthouse, Ming Suan Zhang, a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, pleaded guilty to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by attempting to export massive quantities of aerospace-grade carbon fiber from the U.S. to China.  

According to court filings, Zhang, 41, was arrested after trying to acquire a sample of the specialized carbon fiber, a high-tech material used frequently in the military, defense and aerospace industries that is closely regulated by the U.S. Department of Commerce to combat nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

“Zhang crossed the ocean to obtain massive quantities of restricted American technology for the stated purpose of assisting the Chinese military,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of New York. “He was actively working to circumvent laws that protect our national security by preventing specialized technologies from falling into the wrong hands.”

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Carbon fiber composites of the type allegedly pursued by Zhang and his accomplices are ideally suited to applications where strength, stiffness, lower weight, and outstanding fatigue characteristics are critical requirements. These composites also can be used in applications where high temperature, chemical inertness and high damping are important.

The two main applications of carbon fiber are in specialized technology, particularly in the fields of aerospace and nuclear engineering, and in general engineering and transportation. In addition, certain carbon fiber-based composites, such as the material sought by Zhang, are used in military aircraft.

The plea took place before U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis.
At sentencing on Nov. 15, Zhang faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

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