UC Davis researcher accused of hiding links to Chinese military hides in consulate, US says

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A UC Davis cancer researcher, suspected of being an underground member of the Chinese military, has fled to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, according to US prosecutors.The researcher, Juan Tang, is accused of visa fraud, accused of concealing his membership in the Chinese Military and Communist Party by seeking permission to work in a radiation oncology laboratory at UC Davis. She fled to the consulate after being questioned by FBI agents in late June, prosecutors said.

Tang is “a fugitive from justice currently housed at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco,” a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said Thursday.

The charges against Tang come as the US government escalates a simmering dispute with Beijing over what it claims are attempts by the Chinese government to steal secrets from prominent US research institutes. Consulate officials could not be reached for comment.

The State Department ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston on Wednesday. “We are setting clear expectations as to how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Copenhagen, “and when it doesn’t, we’ll take action. that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security and also protect our economy and our jobs. ”

Court records did not reveal whether Tang had retained the services of a lawyer. A phone number listed for the consulate has been disconnected.

His case does not mark the first time that US authorities have eyeed the San Francisco consulate for helping researchers suspected of hiding their affiliations with the Chinese government. In June, a UC San Francisco researcher admitted he was secretly a Chinese military official and said he had “a designated point of contact” at the consulate, an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit.

The researcher, Xin Wang, has been charged with visa fraud. Chen Song, a neurology researcher at Stanford, and Kaikai Zhao, who studied machine learning and artificial intelligence as a graduate student at Indiana University, face the same charge; both are accused of having undisclosed ties to the Chinese military.

John Brown, who heads the national security arm of the FBI, said Thursday that agents had identified visa holders in more than 25 U.S. cities with hidden affiliations with the Chinese military.

US authorities have evidence that the Chinese government “orders these people to destroy the evidence and [is] coordinate efforts “to drive them out of the United States, Benjamin Kingsley, a US deputy lawyer, wrote in court documents.

FBI agents questioned UC Davis researcher Tang at her apartment in June and served a search warrant, seizing her Chinese passport and various “electronic media,” wrote Steven G. Dilland, an agent for the United States. FBI in Sacramento, in an affidavit.

Officers recovered photos of Tang wearing a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force uniform, Dilland said. They also found a claim for government benefits in which Tang identified himself as a member of the Chinese Communist Party, he said.

At one point, after being interrogated, Tang fled to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, a prosecutor wrote in court documents.

Andy Fell, a spokesperson for UC Davis, said Tang was a visiting researcher in the radiation oncology department at UC Davis School of Medicine. His research was funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council, “a study-based exchange program affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education and Xijing Hospital in China,” Fell said.

Tang left UC Davis at the end of June and the school “is providing all the information requested by the authorities,” he said.

In asking a judge to unseal the documents in her case, a second prosecutor, Heiko P. Coppola, said in court documents filed on July 13 that Chinese government officials had approached U.S. officials “about the activities of” law enforcement around Tang ”.

The State Department issued a bulletin this month warning American citizens in China to “arbitrarily apply local laws for purposes other than maintaining public order.” US officials believe this activity “has some connection” with Tang’s case, Coppola wrote.

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