A second Chinese national, again a woman, was arrested trying to trespass on President Donald Trump’s “southern White House,” his Mar-a-Lago estate and social club, according to the Associated Press.
“Jing Lu, 56, was confronted by the private club’s security officers and told to leave, but she returned to take photos, Palm Beach police spokesman Michael Ogrodnick said in an email. Palm Beach officers were called and arrested her. It was determined she had an expired visa, Ogrodnick said,” the AP reported.
Lu spent the night in the Palm Beach County jail, the AP adds, before being charged with a host of crimes including “loitering and prowling.” The outlet did not specify whether Lu’s camera and photos were confiscated, but photos are allowed inside Mar-a-Lago.
The Trumps are planning to spend Christmas at Mar-a-Lago, but won’t leave the White House in Washington, D.C. until early Christmas morning, according to the president’s official calendar.
This is at least the second time this year that a Chinese national has been caught trying to sneak into Mar-a-Lago, though this time the Chinese national in question wasn’t nearly as prepared. Back in March, Mar-a-Lago security intercepted a Chinese woman, later identified as 33-year-old Yujing Zhang, as she tried to make her way through the club to the pool area, carrying a laptop and several phones and flash drives.
At the time, the Secret Service was present on the estate because the Trump family was spending a holiday in Florida. And although Zhang was clearly outfitted with the right equipment to spy on the American President, she was, the AP says, a tourist and fan of the president who ducked off an organized tour to seek out the President.
“Zhang was found guilty in September of trespassing and lying to Secret Service agents and was sentenced last month to time served. She is being held for deportation,” AP says.
It’s clearly too early to say whether Wednesday’s incident involved espionage, but this week, reports did surface indicating that the government believes there has been an uptick in Chinese spying, perhaps because of President Donald Trump’s more aggressive tone towards the Chinese government on economic and trade matters and, more recently, in support of pro-democracy (and anti-Chinese) protests in Hong Kong.
The report also indicated that the U.S. government recently arrested a group of four Chinese nationals who claimed to be diplomats, trying to sneak onto a secure government facility in Virginia. In that case, the group, which did include two known envoys, said they were trying to see a lighthouse located on a beach near the military installation, but when promoted by military vehicles to stop, ran, leading base security on chase that ended only when the Chinese group was blocked by a fire truck.
Mar-a-Lago, the AP says, makes for an interesting target for foreign nationals looking to gain intelligence on the President. “Federal agencies spent about $3.4 million per Trump visit, much of it on security, according to an analysis of four 2017 trips by the U.S. Government Accountability Office,” the outlet reports. “The Secret Service doesn’t decide who is invited or welcome at the resort; that responsibility belongs to the club. Agents do screen guests outside the perimeter before they’re screened again inside.”