A Chinese researcher accused of lying to the FBI about her military affiliation has fled to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, court documents say, further escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The stalemate in San Francisco comes as the United States ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, for reasons of involvement in the theft of “American intellectual property and private information.”
China called the shutdown “unprecedented” and “scandalous” escalation, and threatened retaliation, with state media publishing a poll asking which US consulates should be closed.
Donald Trump said in response to a question at a Wednesday night briefing that closing more consulates was “still possible.”
The researcher, Juan Tang, is named in a prosecution brief filed Monday in San Francisco Federal District Court calling for the continued detention of another Chinese researcher at Stanford, also accused of lying about links to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). on his visa application.
Tang is accused of claiming never to have served in the PLA for her visa application, when an open source investigation discovered a photo of her in the uniform of the civilian cadre of the PLA and others evidence that she had been a researcher for the Air Force. Medical School. In an interview with the FBI on June 20, according to the document, she claimed that she did not recognize the badge on the uniform she is wearing in the photo.
“On the same day, the FBI executed a search warrant for Tang’s residence, and a search of its electronic media found further evidence of Tang’s affiliation with the PLA,” the memo said. First reported by the Axios news site. “The FBI assesses that at one point, after Tang’s search and interview on June 29, 2020, Tang went to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, where the FBI believes she remained.
In the memo, two other Chinese nationals with ties to the PLA allegedly came to California as researchers under false pretenses, in an attempt to steal intellectual property from US universities. He said Tang’s flight to the San Francisco consulate and other cases – where the accused allegedly deleted files from hard drives and smartphones – showed Beijing was “determined to protect its officials from state lawsuits. -United”.
In Houston, the fire departments were called after seeing smoke rising from the complex. U.S. officials said staff, who had been given 72 hours to leave the country, were burning documents on their property.
A Republican senator claimed that the consulate, which covered several southern states, was a “spy center.”
It is still unclear what triggered the Houston shutdown. During a visit to Denmark on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested the move reflected a U.S. decision to condone Chinese behavior less.
“President Trump said ‘enough’. We are not going to allow this to continue to happen, ”Pompeo said. “We are formulating clear expectations as to how the Chinese Communist Party will behave.”
Chinese state media on Wednesday suggested the possibility of shutting down US consulates, posting a poll on Twitter asking users to choose between missions in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Guangzhou and others.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin criticized the Houston shutdown on Wednesday, saying, “China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unwarranted move, which will sabotage Sino-US relations. “We urge the United States to immediately withdraw its flawed ruling, otherwise China will make legitimate and necessary reactions.”