Federal officials investigating what they believe is a series of Chinese military operatives who lied their way into the United States say one of the latest individuals they are seeking is taking refuge at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
The accusation comes as the U.S. has ordered a Chinese consulate in Houston closed in an action that State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told Fox News was taken “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”
Hours after being told they must vacate the consulate by Friday, consulate employees appear to have been seen burning documents on the premises.
In connection with the operative allegedly hiding in the San Francisco consulate, a memorandum of support filed Monday by U.S. Attorney David Anderson said that Juan Tang — who worked at University of California, Davis — lied her way into the country despite her affiliations with Chinese military, called the People’s Liberation Army.
Authorities said Tang is technically still considered active military personnel, according to Axios.
Her duplicity was uncovered in an FBI investigation, the memorandum said.
“Her J-1 visa application stated 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, and that she had been employed as a researcher at the Air Force Military Medical University,” it read.
“During an interview with FBI agents on June 20, 2020, 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 [the Fourth Military Medical University] because it was a military school.”
“That same day, FBI executed a search warrant at Tang’s residence, and a search of her electronic media found further evidence of Tang’s PLA affiliation. 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,” the memorandum added.
“It is highly unusual for a Chinese diplomatic post to associate so closely with a suspect in an intellectual property theft-related case,” Minyao Wang, a New York-based lawyer, told Axios.
“Sheltering a defendant in a criminal case by using the diplomatic immunity of a consular building, if true, is really extraordinary,” Wang said.
The memorandum that mentioned Tang was issued in a similar case regarding a researcher named Chen Song who authorities say was working for the Chinese military while in the U.S.
The case, the memorandum said, “appears to be 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.
“There additionally exists evidence of the [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,” the memorandum added, outlining other suspected cases.
During media availability in Denmark on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked about the challenge of dealing with China.
‘[T]here’s been this long challenge of the Chinese Communist Party stealing intellectual property,” he said.
“President Trump has said, ‘Enough.’ We’re not going to allow this to continue to happen,” Pompeo added.
“We are setting out clear expectations for how the Chinese Communist Party is going to behave, and when they don’t, we’re going to take actions that protect the American people, protect our security, our national security, and also protect our economy and jobs.
“That’s the actions that you’re seeing taken by President Trump. We’ll continue to engage in those,” he said.
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