The Chinese consulate in San Francisco is currently sheltering a researcher who is suspected of ties to the People’s Liberation Army, according to federal prosecutors.
The researcher, Tang Juan, originally came to the U.S. on a J-1 visa to work at the University of California, Davis. However, investigators discovered that Tang had worked at the Air Force Military Medical University, a PLA-affiliated university, and that Tang did not disclose that fact on her visa application. Tang is technically an active-duty member of the Chinese military.
FBI agents subsequently conducted a search of Tang’s home and discovered additional evidence of continuing ties to the PLA. After an interview with agents on June 20, Tang apparently took shelter inside the Chinese consulate, federal prosecutors write in court filings first reported by Axios.
“We made the Chinese government aware that she is a charged individual, so it unquestionable that they know the defendant is a fugitive from Justice,” a Justice Department official told Axios. Minyao Wang, a lawyer who has worked on various cases involving intellectual property theft, commented, “Sheltering a defendant in a criminal case by using the diplomatic immunity of a consular building, if true, is really extraordinary.”
The news comes after the U.S. ordered China to shutter its consulate in Houston. Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the consulate “the central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies & influence operations in the United States.”
Consulate workers appeared to burn documents in the compound’s courtyard after the closure was announced.