One of the Earliest Industrial Spies Was a French Missionary Stationed in China

Follow the riveting article by Cara Giaimo that depicts the tale of French Missionary; Francois Xavier d’Entrecolles and his first-hand experience with the inside of Chinese porcelain factories in the late 1600’s. From his letters to his Jesuit leaders in France, to the daily findings of faux-aged porcelain processes, this article is a must read for its insightful nature in one of the first espionage acts of the Chinese factory productions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Plenty of today’s technological arms races involve an element of industrial espionage. An executive from Uber has been accused of stealing autonomous car-related data from his old employer, Google. Just this month, the same company was accused of using hidden tracking software to keep tabs on their chief ride-hailing rival, Lyft.
  • But intellectual property theft hasn’t always involved elaborate software programs and moonshots. Back in the 17th century, all it took to steal trade secrets was a Jesuit missionary with an eye for detail who was fluent in Chinese and willing to spend a lot of time in a ceramics factory.
  • When Francois Xavier d’Entrecolles joined the priesthood in 1682, he probably didn’t plan to become the world’s first industrial spy.

“Plenty of today’s technological arms races involve an element of industrial espionage. An executive from Uber has been accused of stealing autonomous car-related data from his old employer, Google. Just this month, the same company was accused of using hidden tracking software to keep tabs on their chief ride-hailing rival, Lyft. And China is trying to partner with the European Union on a suite of new moon bases partly because they can’t work on scientific projects with the United States, thanks to laws meant to prevent secret-stealing.”

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/porcelain-corporate-espionage-china-missionary-dentrecolles