FBI believes Chinese scientist with connections to the Beijing military is hiding in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco to escape arrest after being charged with visa fraud, court documents show of US District of San Francisco.
The revelation comes after Washington said it ordered Beijing to shut down its consulate in Houston, Texas by Friday amid espionage charges – a move China has pledged to fight back as the Relations between the two superpowers have reached new lows over coronavirus, trade and Beijing’s decision to claim more. authority over Hong Kong.
According to the court record, Tang Juan, a biology researcher at the University of California at Davis, was questioned by the FBI on June 20 and charged with visa fraud six days later. Investigators allege that she falsely claimed in her visa application that she had not served in the Chinese military. However, photos of her in a Chinese military uniform were discovered and it was later established that she had worked as a researcher at the China Air Force Military Military Medicine University (FMMU). , according to the documents filed.
Washington vs. Beijing: China vows retaliation after US orders consulate shut
After being questioned by the FBI, Tang fled to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, “where the FBI believes she remained,” US prosecutors say.
The court documents were released on July 20.
During his interview, Tang denied serving in the Chinese military and claimed that wearing a military uniform was required to attend the FMMU. Neither the Chinese consulate in San Francisco nor Tang could be immediately contacted for further comment. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The court documents also mention two other recently indicted Chinese researchers on suspicion of providing false identity information to authorities in order to remain in the United States. These researchers worked at the University of California, San Francisco and Duke University, respectively. Court records do not explicitly charge any of the Chinese researchers with specific crimes related to espionage.
However, the documents say their cases were not isolated and appeared to be part of a program led by (the Chinese military) – and more specifically, the FMMU or associated institutions – to send military scientists to the United States. under false pretenses with false blankets or false blankets. statements about their actual employment. In at least one of these cases, there is evidence that a military scientist copied or stole information
American institutions under the leadership of military superiors in China. ”
China’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly dismissed Trump administration claims that China attempts to steal US secrets or obstruct the coronavirus pandemic, trade or other controversial issues as malicious slander and part of Trump’s electoral strategy to distract voters from his own governance mistakes.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Trump administration officials have called the Chinese Consulate in Houston a spy hub. However, it is still unclear what triggered the decision to order the facility to shut down within 72 hours, given that Washington has long accused Beijing, and rightly so, of cultivating a spy ring in its complexes. diplomatic abroad and elsewhere.
In a speech on Wednesday while traveling abroad to Denmark, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to indicate that the move was part of a general approach to be less tolerant of China over its misdeeds. “President Trump said ‘enough’. We are not going to allow this to continue to happen. Pompeo said. “We are formulating clear expectations on how the Chinese Communist Party will behave. ”
On Tuesday, the Justice Department indicted two Chinese hackers accused of stealing trade secrets from hundreds of global targets and researching vulnerabilities in US companies involved in the development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
DOJ: Chinese hackers charged with theft of trade secrets also investigate coronavirus
But Daniel Russell, who held several high-level positions as an Asian affairs adviser to the Obama administration, said Pompeo had embarked on an “increasingly vitriolic series of anti-China tirades” and “China’s accusation that this decision had more to do with making it difficult to argue with presidential politics than with intellectual property.” ”