Chinese researcher wanted by FBI flees to San Francisco consulate as US-China row deepens

Juan Tang is accu6sed of lying about links to China military, amid tensions between Washington and Beijing after US orders Houston consulate to close

The Guardian
Date: 22 Jul 2020
By: Julian Borger in Washington

A Chinese researcher is in the San Francisco consulate amid FBI claims she lied about links to China’s military. Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

A Chinese researcher charged with lying to the FBI about her military affiliation has taken refuge in China’s San Francisco consulate, according to court documents, further escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The standoff in San Francisco comes at the same time the US ordered the closure of China’s Houston consulate, on grounds of involvement in theft of “American intellectual property and private information”.

China called the closure “unprecedented” and an “outrageous” escalation, and threatened retaliation, with state media putting out a poll asking which US consulates should be closed.

Donald Trump said in response to a question at a Wednesday night briefing that the closure of more consulates was “always possible”.

The researcher, Juan Tang, is named in a prosecutorial memo filed on Monday at the federal district court in San Francisco calling for the continued detention of another Chinese researcher at Stanford who is also charged with lying about links to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on her visa application.

Tang is accused of claiming never to have served in the PLA on her visa application, when an open-source investigation allegedly unearthed a picture of her in the uniform of the PLA’s civilian cadre and further evidence she had been a researcher for the Air Force Military Medical University. In an interview with the FBI on 20 June, according to the document, she claimed not to recognise the insignia on the uniform she is wearing in the photo.

“That same day, FBI executed a search warrant of Tang’s residence, and a search of her electronic media found further evidence of Tang’s PLA affiliation,” the memo, first reported by the Axios news site, said. “The FBI assesses that at some point following the search and interview of Tang on June 29, 2020, Tang went to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where the FBI assesses she has remained.”    [FULL  STORY]