News & Politics

DOJ Charges 4 Researchers with Hiding Ties to China's Military; One Is Being Harbored at San Francisco Consulate

AP Photo/Andy Wong

On Wednesday, the United States government moved to shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston. Shortly after, Houston police and fire responded to reports of small fires in the consulate’s courtyard. Individuals appeared to be burning papers.

That consulate has been accused of fomenting racial unrest in the country, which is one reason why the government apparently ordered it shut down.

Now, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco may be harboring an accused spy.

The Department of Justice this afternoon announced charges against four Chinese nationals who are in the United States on research visas. They are accused of engaging in a concerted effort to conceal their ties with China’s military.

“These members of China’s People Liberation Army applied for research visas while hiding their true affiliation with the PLA,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “This is another part of the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions.  We will continue to conduct this investigation together with the FBI.”

“The United States welcomes students, academics, and researchers from across the globe. Today’s announcement shows the extreme lengths to which the Chinese government has gone to infiltrate and exploit America’s benevolence,” said John Brown, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “In interviews with members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in over 25 cities across the U.S., the FBI uncovered a concerted effort to hide their true affiliation to take advantage of the United States and the American people.”

So more arrests are likely coming, and we may see more of China’s consulates in the U.S. shut down. There are only five—four, now that the consulate in Houston is being shuttered. The four accused individuals’ names are Xin Wang, Juan Tang, Chen Song, and Kaikai Zhao.

Three of the four have been arrested. The fourth, Juan Tang, is reportedly being harbored at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

According to court documents unsealed in the Eastern District of California on July 20, Tang, a researcher at the University of California at Davis, applied for a non-immigrant J1 visa on or about Oct. 28, 2019.  The visa was issued in November 2019, and Tang entered the United States on or about Dec. 27, 2019.  Tang is alleged to have made fraudulent statements on her visa application.  Specifically, to the question, “Have you ever served in the military,” Tang responded “No.”

In fact, Tang is a uniformed officer of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF).  As set forth in the Complaint, the FBI found a photograph of Tang in a military uniform and references to Tang’s employment at the Air Force Military Medical University, which has also been known as the Fourth Military Medical University.  The FBI interviewed Tang on June 20.  Although Tang denied having been a member of the military, an additional photograph of Tang in a different PLA military uniform was found on electronic media seized pursuant to a search warrant.

The FBI is seeking to arrest Tang pursuant to an Arrest Warrant and Complaint that were filed on June 26, and unsealed on July 20.  Tang has sought refuge at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where she remains.

As Rick Moran wrote yesterday, China is using its consulates in the United States to organize and operate webs and nest of spies.

Additionally, China is accused of abusing the U.S. research visa system to implant spies at our leading universities and research institutions. It is also outright buying researchers with lavish salaries and benefits through its Thousand Talents Program. The TTP, begun in 2008, spends roughly $1 trillion per year recruiting and paying top-level researchers around the United States and across the world to clandestinely funnel their research toward Beijing, which in turn uses this research to develop its military.

China initially set out to recruit about 2,000 researchers but has reportedly successfully recruited about 7,000.

On Wednesday, DOJ announced charges against two Chinese hackers, accusing them of engaging in a decade-long hacking cybercrime spree.

Harvard Nanoscience Professor Indicted for Concealing Work for Communist China, Wuhan University of Technology
Univ. of Arkansas Prof Arrested for Wire Fraud; Failing to Disclose Ties to Communist China