US Federal investigators have revealed that China’s consulate in San Francisco has been hiding a Chinese scientist accused of visa fraud amid tensions between the United States and China following the abrupt closure of Beijing’s consulate in Houston by the US Government.
According to the FBI, Tang Juan, a researcher focusing on biology, lied about her connection to the Chinese military in order to obtain entry into the US and has since avoided arrest by taking refuge in the Chinese consulate.
She was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport while trying to depart the US for China.
According to court filings, Tang was charged on June 26 with one count of visa fraud after the FBI alleged she concealed her connection to China’s military in her visa application, but FBI investigators “discovered photographs of her in the uniform of the Civilian Cadre of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)” and that she had been employed as a researcher at the Fourth Military Medical University (FMMU).
During an interview with FBI agents on June 20, “Tang denied serving in the Chinese military, claimed she did not know the meaning of the insignia on her uniform, and that wearing a military uniform was required for attendance at FMMU because it was a military school,” her attorneys wrote in a court filing.
But when the FBI searched her residence and electronic media, they allegedly “found further evidence of Tang’s PLA affiliation.”
After her interview with the FBI, Tang allegedly fled to the San Francisco consulate, “where the FBI assesses she has remained.”
Prosecutors also claim there are other Chinese scientists in the US and they are part of a “program conducted by the PLA — and specifically, FMMU or associated institutions — to send military scientists to the United States on false pretenses with false covers or false statements about their true employment.”
“There exists evidence in at least one of these cases of a military scientist copying or stealing information from American institutions at the direction of military superiors in China,” prosecutors said.
“There additionally exists evidence of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) government instructing these individuals to destroy evidence and in coordinating efforts regarding the departure of these individuals from the United States, particularly following the charges filed against Xin Wang in this district on June 7, 2020.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, reacting to Wang’s arrest called it “blatant political persecution.”
“As far as I know, Wang Xin does research in the field of cardiovascular diseases. I don’t see how that could ever threaten US national interest or security,” she said, adding that “recently many Chinese citizens were questioned for a long time by American law enforcement officials while leaving the US, and the digital devices they carried were also examined.”
After the US government shut down the US consulate in Houston, Chian promised to respond, with state media suggesting the shutting down of one of the US’ numerous diplomatic missions within China.
The decision to shut down the Houston consulate comes a day after US prosecutors charged two alleged Chinese hackers over a “sweeping global computer intrusion campaign” that they say was supported by the country’s government and aimed at coronavirus treatment and vaccine research.
The US State Department earlier accused China of having “engaged for years in massive illegal spying and influence operations” and that those “activities have increased markedly in scale and scope over the past few years.”
On Twitter, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the acting chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the Houston consulate was a “central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies.”