Shu Quan-Sheng, 68, made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Norfolk and is being held in jail until a bond hearing Monday.
Shu, the president of AMAC International Inc., is charged with two counts of violating the federal Arms Control Act and one count of bribery. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years on each arms count and five years for the bribery charge.
It could not be determined whether Shu has hired a lawyer. A phone message left at his company was not returned.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, Shu sold technology to China for development of hydrogen-propelled rockets. The Chinese government is developing a space launch facility in the southern island province of Hainan that will house liquid-propelled launch vehicles designed to send space stations and satellites into orbit.