In a statement the DoJ said Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong were both members of a group known as APT10 and worked for a company known as Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Company.
The issuing of charges at this time appears to be part of an American push to build up pressure on China in a bid to force it to yield to US demands on trade issues.
The statement said Zhu and Zhang had "conducted global campaigns of computer intrusions targeting, among other data, intellectual property and confidential business and technological information at managed service providers, which are companies that remotely manage the information technology infrastructure of businesses and governments around the world, more than 45 technology companies in at least a dozen US states, and US government agencies".
Among the things allegedly stolen was material from:
- seven companies involved in aviation, space and/or satellite technology;
- three companies involved in communications technology; three companies involved in manufacturing advanced electronic systems and/or laboratory analytical instruments;
- a company involved in maritime technology; a company involved in oil and gas drilling, production, and processing; and the NASA Goddard Space Centre and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The DoJ claimed in addition Zhu, Zhang, and their co-conspirators gained unauthorised access to computers belonging to more than 25 other technology-related companies involved in, among other things, industrial factory automation, radar technology, oil exploration, information technology services, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and computer processor technology, as well as the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.