The Trump administration closed China’s consulate in Houston in late July. The Department of Justice, on a call with reporters a few days after the closure, outlined several reasons that that specific consulate deserved to be shut.
SENIOR JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you, and good morning to all of you. Thank you for joining us this morning. By their very nature, consulates are a base of operations for foreign governments in the United States, including their intelligence services. And it’s understood that there will be some activity here by those services. But because of their location within the United States and their status as sovereign territory of a foreign country, they can be exploited. And the espionage and influence activities run out of a consulate can rise ultimately to a level that threatens our national security.
Let me give you a few examples of that in the context of the consulate closure in Houston. Yesterday we issued – we being the Department of Justice – a press release highlighting a network of PLA associates who concealed their military affiliation when applying for student visas here. One of those individuals was a fugitive from justice until last night, having received sanctuary in the San Francisco consulate. That press release and the individuals charged there are a microcosm, we believe, of a broader network of individuals in more than 25 cities. That network is supported through the consulates here. Consulates have been giving individuals in that network guidance on how to evade and obstruct our investigation, and you can infer from that the ability to task that network of associates nationwide.
The Houston consulate was also implicated in an investigation of grant fraud at a Texas research institution. Consulate officials directly involved – were directly involved in communications with researchers and guided them on what information to collect. The consulates in Houston – including Houston promoted talent plan memberships. Memberships in talent plans can create the incentives to steal intellectual property and otherwise create conflicts of interest.
That talent plan is Thousand Talents, a large and sprawling effort on the part of the Chinese Communist Party to subvert top-level researchers in the United States and across the free world in a variety of key fields and buy their research, which is turned over to the People’s Liberation Army. That’s China’s ironically named military, which liberates no one, threatens its own citizens, and helps maintain the communists’ police state. Thousand Talents has been uncovered and several arrests have been made this year, including the high-profile arrest of Dr. Charles Lieber of Harvard. Lieber is one of the world’s top nanoscientists. The Department of Justice accuses him of secretly working for the communists in Beijing via the Wuhan University of Technology.
At the time of the Houston consulate’s closure, we and many others reported that individuals were seen burning documents in the consulate’s courtyard. Who was burning them, and for what purpose, we could only guess. There was speculation that the consulate was somehow involved in the ongoing protests and riots in cities across the country.
In August, the Trump administration moved to ban TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app. The administration is threatening to ban it unless it gets sold away from Chinese ownership. Microsoft is said to be in the running to purchase it. TikTok is countering with a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The ban also included Chinese social-media app WeChat, which many Chinese nationals use to connect around the world. It is reportedly monitored and censored by the communist government.
Among other things, TikTok has been accused of scooping up the private personal data of its users, which include many underage children, and sending that data to servers in China.
The Trump administration has also been sharply critical of Chinese tech giant Huawei, which, among other things, manufactures 5G cell-phone technology. The United Kingdom in July banned Huawei from working on its 5G network, citing the company’s very close ties to the Chinese communist government and the possibility that its tech could be used to harm Britain’s national security.
All of this, according to a brief report at ChinaScope, may be connected.
The Second Department of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which is the PLA’s intelligence unit, sent staff members from a large network company, with fake IDs, to China’s Consulate in Houston. Those technicians used a large video platform’s backend data to identify people who might participate in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and ANTIFA’s protests and then created and sent them customized videos on how to organize riots and how to do promotions.
It sounds an awful lot like the Chinese Communist Party used PLA officers armed with fake Huawei IDs to access TikTok data to target likely protesters in cities around the United States.
The report further says that the videos were sent directly to likely protest participants, so that they would not be seen by the media or the public at large. This was then a nearly undetectable microtargeting engagement from a communist government to like-minded Marxist groups and individuals across the United States. TikTok, according to the report, was its primary vehicle.
If this ChinaScope report is true, and the Houston Chinese consulate was the hub of unrest via TikTok, it makes sense of the recent events noted above. It also makes some sense of the riots themselves. Antifa got its start as the communists’ street fighters in Weimar Germany. Black Lives Matters’ leaders have openly stated they are trained Marxists. The strongest communist regime on earth today is the one in Beijing under its most authoritarian leader in decades, Xi Jinping. The rioters’ goal is not any particular policy outcome, but to subvert and weaken America. Destroying our cities, defunding law enforcement, agitating against ICE, and dividing America along racial lines all support the goal of weakening the United States, which happens to be China’s long-term foreign policy goal.
The Soviets used similar means to subvert the United States during the Cold War. Among its most notable efforts was the “nuclear freeze” movement, which pushed against the U.S. drive to modernize its nuclear weapons arsenal and deploy that arsenal among its key European allies, to defend them against possible Soviet invasion.
This report, if true, connects several dots and casts the riots of the past few months in a new light. It’s an effort on the part of a hostile regime to weaken our nation’s integrity. Its leaders and operators on U.S. soil are, knowingly or not, doing the bidding of a hostile foreign government.