Fugitive Chinese researcher ‘hiding in San Francisco consulate’, US says

Fugitive Chinese researcher 'hiding in San Francisco consulate', US says
Men were filmed acting suspiciously at China's consulate in Houston on Tuesday
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Daily US Times: The FBI has said that a Chinese scientist suspected of visa fraud and concealing ties to the military has fled to China’s consulate in San Francisco.

Prosecutors allege that the case is part of China’s programme to send undercover army scientists to the United States.

Trump administration on Wednesday ordered the closure of China’s mission in Houston, saying it was involved in stealing intellectual property.

China condemned moves against consulates and its scientists in the US.

Wang Wenbin, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, accused Trump administration of using excuses to limit, harass or crack down on Chinese scholars in the country.

President Donald Trump threatened to close down more Chinese missions following the row over the Houston consulate. The Houston consulate came under scrutiny on Tuesday when people overlooking the consulate building’s courtyard noticed several bins on fire.

In recent months, he has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic, China’s imposition of a controversial new security law on Hong Kong and trade.

On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice accused China of patronizing hackers who are targeting labs developing Covid-19 vaccines. Officials have charged two Chinese men who allegedly spied on US companies that are doing coronavirus research and got help from state agents for other thefts.

What are the allegations?

Prosecutors filed a case in a federal court in San Francisco saying the defendant, named as Juan Tang, was a biology researcher at the University of California, Davis.

The filings says, during an interview with FBI agents last month she said she had not served in the Chinese military.

However, an open-source investigation uncovered photos of her wearing military uniform, the document says, and a search of her home found further evidence of her affiliation with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The filing, first reported on by the Axios news site, reads: “At some point following the search and interview of Tang on June 20, 2020, Tang went to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where the FBI assesses she has remained.”

It adds: “As the Tang case demonstrates, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco provides a potential safe harbor for a PLA official intent on avoiding prosecution in the United States.”

Prosecutors say that this is not an isolated case but “appears to be part of a program conducted by the PLA” to send military scientists to the US on false pretences.

The document also highlights the cases of two other researchers who were arrested in California in recent weeks for lying about their alleged ties to the military.