China-US row: Fugitive researcher ‘hiding in San Francisco consulate’

China-US row: Fugitive researcher 'hiding in San Francisco consulate'

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Media captionMales were filmed performing suspiciously at China’s consulate in Houston on Tuesday

A Chinese scientist suspected of visa fraud and concealing ties to the army has fled to China’s consulate in San Francisco, the US claims.

Prosecutors allege that the circumstance is aspect of a Chinese programme to send undercover army researchers to the US.

On Wednesday the Trump administration ordered the closure of China’s mission in Houston, stating it was involved in stealing intellectual house.

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

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused the administration of employing excuses to restrict, harass or crack down on Chinese students in the country.

Subsequent the row in excess of the Houston consulate, President Donald Trump threatened to shut down a lot more Chinese missions.

In current months he has clashed frequently with Beijing around trade, the coronavirus pandemic and China’s imposition of a controversial new safety legislation on Hong Kong.

What are the allegations about the San Francisco mission?

Court filings by prosecutors in a federal court docket in San Francisco say the defendant, named as Juan Tang, was a biology researcher at the University of California, Davis.

In accordance to the filings, during an job interview with FBI brokers very last thirty day period she stated she had not served in the Chinese military services.

Having said that, the document states, an open up-resource investigation uncovered images of her carrying military uniform and a search of her dwelling observed even more evidence of her affiliation with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

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“At some position adhering to the lookup and interview of Tang on June 20, 2020, Tang went to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, the place the FBI assesses she has remained,” the submitting, 1st reported on by the Axios news web page, reads.

It adds: “As the Tang situation demonstrates, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco delivers a prospective risk-free harbor for a PLA official intent on averting prosecution in the United States.”

Prosecutors say that this is not an isolated situation but “appears to be part of a plan executed by the PLA” to send out army scientists to the US on wrong pretences.

The document also highlights the conditions of two other scientists arrested in California in latest weeks for lying about their alleged ties to the armed service.

What is occurring at China’s consulates?

The Houston consulate arrived under scrutiny on Tuesday when folks overlooking the building’s courtyard observed quite a few bins on fire.

Footage showed men and women throwing what appeared to be paper into the bins.

Unexpected emergency solutions had been called to the developing but Houston police say they were not granted access.

On Wednesday, the administration gave China 72 hours to close the consulate “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ non-public information and facts”.

Secretary of Condition Mike Pompeo explained: “We are environment out obvious expectations for how the Chinese Communist Get together is heading to behave. And when they you should not, we are likely to get actions that protect the American individuals, defend… our nationwide security, and also secure our economic system and jobs.”

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The consulate is 1 of five in the US, not counting the embassy in Washington. China explained the closure as a “political provocation”.

What is stoking tensions involving China and the US?

There are a range of flashpoints between Beijing and Washington presently. Some of the most critical are:

  • Coronavirus: President Trump has frequently referred to Covid-19, the very first scenarios of which ended up documented in Wuhan in late 2019, as the “China virus”. He has also alleged it originated from a Chinese laboratory, inspite of his personal intelligence officers saying it “was not artifical or genetically modified”. In response, Chinese officials have instructed, without evidence, that Covid-19 might have originated in the US
  • Trade: Mr Trump has extended accused China of unfair buying and selling tactics and mental house theft but in Beijing there is a notion that the US is seeking to suppress its rise as a international financial electric power. The US and China have engaged in a tit-for-tat tariff war due to the fact 2018 as a consequence of the dispute
  • Hong Kong: China’s imposition of a sweeping new countrywide protection law in Hong Kong in June led the US to revoke the region’s preferential economic cure. Mr Trump has also signed a legislation to impose sanctions on officials who cracked down on legal rights. Beijing has accused the US of “gross interference” in its domestic affairs, promising it will retaliate

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