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Estimable readers! My name is Ray Zhong, and I’m a tech reporter based in Beijing.

My patch of the world is rarely out of the news these days; President Trump’s trade fight has made sure of it. But with all the tariffs and talks, it’s easy to forget how this all got started: China wants to build a high-tech economy, and the Trump administration says it is doing so using unfair tactics, such as forcing American companies to share their know-how.

This is why the White House sounded so galled this week when Beijing responded to Washington’s recent tariffs not by addressing those practices, but by imposing tariffs of its own.

“We have been very clear and detailed regarding the specific changes China should undertake,” Robert E. Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, China has not changed its behavior — behavior that puts the future of the U.S. economy at risk.”

As it happens, the week offered a fresh reminder of the kind of behavior Mr. Lighthizer was referring to, in the form of a criminal complaint filed in California.

The defendant: Xiaolang Zhang, a former Apple engineer with the company’s car project who was arrested at the airport in San Jose, Calif., while trying to go to China. According to an affidavit from the F.B.I., Mr. Zhang stole company secrets before leaving Apple this spring for a new job at XMotors, a Chinese start-up.

A well-oiled heist this was not. The F.B.I.’s affidavit said Apple’s security team had found extensive downloads by Mr. Zhang from confidential databases. According to the F.B.I., he was caught on camera entering Apple’s campus on a Saturday evening while on paternity leave, then leaving less than an hour later with some equipment. He transferred sensitive files to his wife’s personal laptop, though he told Apple that he hadn’t forwarded them to anyone else, the F.B.I. said in the court documents.

My colleague Paul Mozur recently covered another case of corporate theft, one involving a Chinese state-backed company and the American chip maker Micron Technology. The actions that the F.B.I. linked to Mr. Zhang seem far more bumbling. And there’s no sign they were state-sanctioned.

Such cases are still worth watching, though, particularly as more Chinese tech companies, XMotors included, set up offices in Silicon Valley.

The White House has accused the Chinese government of conducting and supporting cyberattacks to steal information from American companies. But as my colleague Li Yuan wrote recently, China’s high-tech push is being driven as much by hungry companies as by Communist Party leaders. It’s hard to see how higher taxes on Chinese exports are supposed to stop businesses from breaking the rules to get an edge.

Elsewhere this week:

■ The Trump administration may think it is merely punishing Chinese economic policies. But officials in Beijing see a campaign to suppress Chinese aspirations, Keyu Jin of the London School of Economics wrote in a Financial Times op-ed.

■ Jeff Ding at Oxford University has translated five reports from a Chinese consultancy on the state of play in the country’s artificial intelligence industry. Mr. Ding’s newsletter is a great resource for keeping up to speed on Chinese A.I. policy and strategy. Sign up here.

■ From the department of “Orwellian nonsense”: Apple fixed a bug that was causing some devices to crash when users typed the word “Taiwan” or received messages containing a Taiwanese flag emoji. According to one researcher, the bug was the result of code that prevents the Taiwanese flag from appearing in Chinese users’ emoji menus.

■ Tesla, which is still struggling to mass-produce its cars in the United States, is opening a giant plant in Shanghai. The rap on Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, is that he overpromises and underdelivers, all while sounding infuriatingly blasé about the consequences. But to many in China, Mr. Musk is a fearless dreamer who overcomes failure to do things that ordinary people cannot. Here’s a blog post (in Chinese) that came out after one of Mr. Musk’s other companies — SpaceX — shot a car into space this year. The headline? “China Doesn’t Have a Musk.”

■ And for the darker side of China’s tech ambitions, here’s Paul again with a masterful look at how the government is using facial recognition and A.I. to revive and modernize an old idea: “Only strong authority can bring order to a turbulent country.”

Raymond Zhong covers technology in China. He previously reported from India. You can follow him on Twitter here: @zhonggg.





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