On Wednesday, we saw the State Department order the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, to close. The move came less than 72 hours after the State Department accused Chinese agents of stealing data from the Texas A&M medical system, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and other Texas facilities. Whether the two incidents are related, we don’t yet know.
Now, the U.S. government believes that another Chinese consulate, located in San Francisco, California, has been harboring at least one fugitive from U.S. authorities, according to the Washington Examiner.
The information comes by way of documents that the FBI recently filed in court. The documents detail a number of incidents in which Chinese nationals allegedly lied about their connections to the Chinese military in order to obtain a visa.
One such incident involves Tang Juan who has been working as a researcher at the University of California, Davis.
According to the FBI, on Tang’s visa application she claimed that she “had never served in the military, but open source investigation revealed photographs of her in the uniform of the Civilian Cadre of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army], and that she had been employed as a researcher at the Air Force Military Medical University, which is another name for FMMU [Fourth Military Medical University].”
The FBI, thus, launched an investigation into Tang. The agency conducted an interview with her, and, just like on her visa application, she denied serving in the PLA. The FBI also says that Tang claimed that “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.”
Finding a safe place to hide
Following the interview, the FBI executed a search warrant for Tang’s home. There they found more evidence of Tang’s connection with the PLA.
This is when the FBI claims that Tang went into hiding at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
“The FBI assesses that, 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,” court documents read.
Tang has remained there because, under international law, these consulates are off-limits to U.S. authorities.
The allegation that Tang is facing is not unique. In the very court documents filed by the FBI, they listed several other very similar situations. And, in at least one of the cases, the FBI says that there is evidence that the Chinese national either copied or stole information from American institutions after being ordered to do so by military superiors in China.
This, obviously, is nothing new. It has probably been going on for ages. But, at least the Trump administration is now trying to get to the bottom of this Chinese spy problem, even if it’s long overdue.