A Chinese researcher at one of the largest public research organisations in Japan has been accused of leaking sensitive technological information to a Chinese company. Quan Hengdao, who is a 59-year-old senior scientist researcher at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), was arrested in Tokyo on 15 June for allegedly disclosing research data on fluorine compounds to the Chinese chemical manufacturer.

Hengdao has reportedly worked at AIST for more than 20 years, but also had simultaneously served as a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology. He is suspected of participating in the Chinese government’s controversial Thousand Talents recruitment programme.

The leaked data involves synthesis technology for a fluorine compound, according to the South China Morning Post. The highly-insulating compound is used in devices such as transformers. Hengdao has denied the allegations against him.

Chinese government officials have expressed serious concern about the arrest, and AIST has called Hengdao’s detention ‘very regrettable’, and said it will cooperate fully with the investigation. The Tokyo police is understood to be investigating whether additional confidential technological data was leaked.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning is quoted as saying: ‘We hope that the Japanese side will effectively respect the rule of law, market economy and the principle of fair competition, and create a favourable environment for Sino–Japanese scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation.’