Tensions in China are on the rise as the FBI says the San Francisco Consulate is home to a fugitive biologist
Another Chinese consulate is criticized, a report reported Thursday, after the FBI claimed the San Francisco property is home to an investigator accused of denying ties to the Chinese military to gain entry to the US.
Federal prosecutors report in a June 26 court that Tang Juan, a Chinese scientist working in biology, has evaded visa fraud arrest by taking refuge in the California consulate.
The news of mounting tensions between the U.S. and China comes just one day after the State Department ordered the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas, and gave diplomats and other personnel until Friday to close the property. leave.
The FBI claimed it “found further evidence of Tang’s PLA affiliation” when it searched her hometown and electronic media.
PLA, or People’s Liberation Army, is the Chinese Armed Forces, and in turn the military force that supports the ruling political party, the Chinese Communist Party.
The complaint calls many Chinese scientists who say they are part of a PLA program, in particular with the Fourth Military Medical University, or FMMU, “to send military scientists to the United States on false pretenses with false covers or false statements about their true work ‘.
The FBI says the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco is home to a fugitive Chinese scientist accused of lying about her ties to the Chinese military to gain entry to the U.S. through biological research
“There is evidence that in at least one of these cases, a military scientist copies or steals information from U.S. institutions at the direction of military superiors in China,” prosecutors revealed in the filing.
Investigators said they had “ discovered photos of her [Tang] in the Civilian Cadre uniform of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army ‘and discovered that she had worked as a researcher at the FMMU.
“Tang has refused to serve in the Chinese military,” lawyers in a court filed on July 20, based on her interview with FBI agents the same day, “claimed she did not know the meaning of the insignia on her uniform, and that she was wearing a military uniform was required to participate in FMMU because it was a military school. ‘
After her interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Tang reportedly fled to the diplomatic mission on the west coast, “where the FBI finds she has stayed.”
The Chinese investigator was charged with a single count of visa fraud on June 26 after prosecutors accused her of hiding her connections to the PLA with her visa application, according to court charges.
The charges come the day after reports said Chinese diplomats were ordered to evacuate the Houston property, the first Chinese consulate to open in the U.S. in 1979 after diplomatic relations between the two nations were established.
The Chinese Consulate in Houston was reportedly a hot bed of spies – and President Donald Trump’s decision to close it was made without warning or explanation.
Hours before the administration released her order on Wednesday, consulate employees were spotted starting fires in a courtyard of the Houston building, prompting police officers and firefighters to respond to the scene.
Fire crews, however, were prevented from accessing the compound.
Diplomats stationed in Texas have been told operations will end on Friday afternoon – and Beijing has identified the action as illegal and has vowed revenge.
The consulate is one of five in the United States, not including the embassy in Washington DC.
Sources on Wednesday NBC said that the consulate was known as a center for Chinese espionage.
The rise in tensions and more negative news about the consulate comes after the Chinese diplomatic mission in Houston was ordered to close its doors on Tuesday evening
Shortly after the directive, diplomats saw documents burning in several small trash cans in the courtyard of the consulate
Firemen arriving on site were told they could not come in to extinguish the fire
Several U.S. officials told the network that the Houston Consulate has long been used by the Chinese government to steal valuable medical research and was involved in attempts to infiltrate the oil and natural gas industry.
They said the consulate was well-fortified, hardened to prevent U.S. surveillance, and was a high-tech communications center to coordinate and conduct various espionage operations.
Democrat Sen. Mark Warner for Virginia and a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee told Katy Tur of NBC News that he would not go into the specific information behind Wednesday’s closure.
“But I can tell you that for the past two years, I and other members of the intelligence committee have held secret briefings with business leaders and academic leaders about the Chinese communist party’s joint efforts to steal our intellectual property, to steal it from companies, to steal it from universities, to be more wary, “he said.
Warner suggested the action was spearheaded by the FBI and its intelligence.
China has five consulates in the United States. The photo in Houston closes on Friday
The State Department said China was conducting “massive illegal espionage and influence operations.”
Told David R. Stilwell, who oversees the East Department’s policies for East Asia and the Pacific The New York Times that the Houston consulate had a history of “subversive behavior.”
He said the consulate was the epicenter of investigative theft in the United States.
For example, Stilwell said that the Consul General, the best Chinese official there, and two other diplomats have recently been caught false identification to escort Chinese travelers to the gate area of a charter flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Stilwell said some of the attempted scientific theft attempts in China in the United States had accelerated in the past six months and may have been related to efforts to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus – although again he did not present any evidence.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been a leader in pushing hard-line policies towards China aggressively, said at a press conference in Copenhagen on Wednesday that the Trump administration ‘outlined clear expectations of how the Chinese Communist Party is going’ behave.’
He warned that the United States would “take measures” to protect its interests.
Vans were pictured on Wednesday outside the consulate in Houston
Much of the interest in Houston has focused on the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
In April 2019, three out of five scientists identified by the federal authorities as involved in attempts to steal U.S. research from MD Anderson on behalf of China were ousted by the institution.
A fourth scientist quit before the study was completed, and the fifth was disciplined by the center.
Trump said at a news conference on Wednesday evening that “it is always possible” that his government would close more Chinese missions.
The consulate’s closure marks a further break in relations between the world’s two largest economies and is a significant shift from just six months ago, when the countries signed a trade deal and Trump bragged that the relationship between the US and China ‘ might be the best it has been ‘in a long, long time. ‘
Trump said six months ago that the relationship with China was excellent
Now relations between Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping are at a low level
In addition to closing the consulate, the US is now also considering banning Chinese mobile apps such as Tik Tok, removing Chinese technology from the power grid and sanctioning Communist Party officials for interning Muslims and effectively ending a security law Hong Kong’s independent legal status.
Trump has also halted further trade talks and threatened to punish China for saying they “could have stopped the pandemic.”
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the State Department, described the US’s reasons for closing the consulate as “incredibly ridiculous.”
She urged the US to reverse its “wrong decision” or China would “respond with strong countermeasures.”
“While Chinese diplomats promote mutual understanding and friendship, the United States Embassy in China is publicly attacking China’s political system,” she said.
“As a result of smears and hatred sparked by the US government, the Chinese embassy has received bombs and death threats.”