The two have also feuded over U.S. support for Taiwan, Chinese weapons purchases from Russian Federation and China's territorial claims in the South China Sea - where the U.S. says a Chinese destroyer came aggressively close to a U.S. Navy ship late last month, forcing it to maneuver to prevent a collision.
The U.S.is trying combat what American officials describe as a relentless effort by the Chinese government to plunder American industry of its innovative ideas and technologies.
A report by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a DNI component, made public last summer said China is engaged in aggressive cyber operations to steal valuable US technology and economic secrets. Last week Vice President Pence accused Chinese security agencies of "mastermind [ing] the wholesale theft of American technology".
Top law enforcement officials picked up that theme on Wednesday.
"This case is not an isolated incident".
A senior United States justice department official said the case was "part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense".
We can not tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower.
Xu made his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Cincinnati, Ben Glassman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of OH, told reporters.
The arrest of a Chinese intelligence officer is unprecedented: the USA has indicted PLA officers in the past for allegedly hacking American companies, but that's where it ended, as the individuals reside in China.
According to the indictment, beginning December 2013 and till his arrest, Xu targeted certain companies recognised as leaders in the aviation field both in and outside the United States.
He was the second Chinese national in two weeks charged by the Justice Department with attempting to steal aviation industry secrets.
Ji targeted individuals in science and tech industries, seven of whom worked for or recently retired from USA defense contractors, authorities said.
The individuals were then allegedly asked to provide blueprints and other materials, which were handed over to engineers at a leading Chinese university.
The MSS officer's mission was to obtain American technology from US aerospace companies.
"Using that stolen technology, the Chinese Communist Party is turning plowshares into swords on a massive scale", Pence said.
Often, the Justice Department issues indictments that charge people still in China.
Xu Yanjun will be the first Chinese spymaster to face trial in America amid accusations that Beijing is escalating its espionage efforts on U.S. soil.
This is the latest in a string of economic espionage cases involving Chinese nationals stealing information beneficial to Beijing-though an indictment of an intelligence officer within the Chinese Communist Party is rare.