US: Researcher being harboured at Chinese consulate in SF

US: Researcher being harboured at Chinese consulate in SF

WASHINGTON — The Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harbouring a Chinese researcher who lied about her military background, the Justice Department said Thursday as it announced charges against that scientist and three others accused of concealing their government ties.

The four researchers are accused of lying on applications to work in the United States about their status as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. All are charged with visa fraud.

The FBI, meanwhile, has interviewed visa holders in more than 25 American cities who are suspected of concealing their ties to the Chinese military. The Justice Department believes that the deception is part of an ongoing, government-sponsored effort to steal research and innovation from American universities for Beijing’s economic gain.

“This is another part of the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions,” John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, said in a statement.

The allegation comes amid rising tension between the U.S. and China, particularly related to theft of intellectual property — including by Chinese researchers with military and government connections — for Beijing’s benefit. Just this week, the U.S. ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, and the Justice Department charged two Chinese hackers with targeting firms working on vaccines for the coronavirus.

Trump administration officials have escalated their public condemnations of China in the last several weeks, with speeches by FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Three of the four defendants have been arrested. The FBI believes that the fourth, Tang Juan, has been harboured for weeks in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. The Justice Department says the scientist, who is listed in some court filings as Juan Tang, lied about her military affiliation in a visa application last October as she made plans to work at the University of California, Davis and again during an FBI interview months later.

Agents found photographs of Tang in a uniform of the PLA civilian cadre and also reviewed articles from China that identified her military affiliation.

The FBI last month interviewed Tang, when she denied having served in the military or knowing the significance of the insignia on the uniform she was photographed wearing, and also found more evidence of her military affiliation when they later searched her home, according to court filings.

“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,” prosecutors wrote in a July 20 court filing that sought the detention of another Chinese scientist who the Justice Department says lied about her military background to enter the U.S.

The document alleges efforts by multiple Chinese nationals to conceal their ties to the military or government, and says “the Chinese government has instructed PLA members in the United States to obstruct justice by deleting information from their devices.”

In a statement, UC Davis said its medical school was providing law enforcement officials with information they had requested. The university said Tang had been a visiting researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology whose work was funded by a study-based exchange program affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education and Xijing Hosital.

Tang left the university at the end of June, and her work was based solely in the research laboratory, the school said.

An Associated Press reporter was unable to leave a phone message with the consulate Thursday morning. No attorney for Tang was listed in court filings.

____

Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

Eric Tucker, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

College expects lower enrolment but president remains optimistic

International travel restrictions will have big impact on foreign students

Alberta’s active COVID-19 cases continue to trend downwards

85 new cases Tuesday, active cases sit at 1,004

Overwhelming majority of Red Deer students could be back in classrooms this fall

Preliminary survey results show 94 per cent parental support

Some Red Deer County residents oppose a gravel pit proposed for a flood-prone area

Howell’s Excavation co-owner says the proposal meets or exceeds standards

Workers at Regina linen company contract COVID-19 but facility safe: officials

REGINA — Health officials say 18 employees at a linen facility in… Continue reading

Alberta reports 257 new cases of COVID-19

The Alberta government reported 257 new cases of COVID-19 in its latest… Continue reading

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

Vigil held in Maskwacis for 10-year-old boy

Samson Cree Nation comes together for comfort, console each other

Cuts to environmental monitoring budget In Alberta’s oilsands are viewed as reckless

The 2019-2020 budget saw $58 million dollars being dedicated to environmental monitoring

N.L. reports second COVID-19 case linked to out-of-province TV series worker

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A second person who works on the St.… Continue reading

World shares march higher as S&P 500 nears all-time record

World stock markets rallied on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said… Continue reading

Russia’s approval of virus vaccine greeted with some alarm

MOSCOW — Russia on Tuesday became the first country to approve a… Continue reading

Police tried to cuff young boy at Florida school

KEY WEST, Fla. — A civil rights lawyer plans to sue the… Continue reading

Most Read