On Friday afternoon, U.S. federal agents and local law enforcement gained entrance to the Chinese consulate compound in Houston, Texas, only days after reports surfaced of officials inside the consulate burning documents, prompting much suspicion.
US agents, local law enforcement and a locksmith's van entered the Chinese consulate in Houston days after it was ordered to close. US officials alleged the facility was part of a Chinese espionage effort.https://t.co/m5Gnh4A2bW
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 24, 2020
“A series of black SUVs, trucks, two white vans and a locksmith’s van entered the property as a crowd of observers and news cameras observed from the edge of the diplomatic compound,” CNN reported. “U.S. officials were seen in videos prying open a back door, and local law enforcement set up a perimeter around the building Friday afternoon,” The Hill reported.
U.S. officials stated that Chinese consulate officials “were directly involved in communications with researchers and guided them on what information to collect.”
A U.S. Justice Department official asserted that officials at the consulate “are a microcosm, we believe, of a broader network of individuals in more than 25 cities. … Consulates have been giving individuals in that network guidance on how to evade [and] obstruct our investigation.”
“The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s (People Republic of China) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior,” the State Department said in a statement. “We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s [sic] private information.”
“China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in a tweet, later adding: “China’s consulate in Houston is not a diplomatic facility. It is the central node of the Communist Party’s vast network of spies & influence operations in the United States. Now that building must close & the spies have 72 hours to leave or face arrest. This needed to happen.”
On Tuesday, the Trump administration gave China about 72 hours to “cease all operations and events” at the consulate.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced that the FBI had arrested three Chinese visa holders suspected of having memberships in the People’s Liberation Army. A fourth research visa fraud suspect who was reportedly being protected in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco was taken into custody on Friday.
The People’s Liberation Army is under the command of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China.
“Four individuals have recently been charged with visa fraud in connection with a scheme to lie about their status as members of the People’s Republic of China’s military forces, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), while in the United States conducting research. Three of these individuals have been arrested and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking the fourth who is a fugitive from justice currently being harbored at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco,” the Department of Justice stated on Thursday.
The DOJ said of the suspect who is being kept in the Chinese consulate, Juan Tang, that she is a uniformed officer of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF). The DOJ continued, “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.”
On Friday, CNN noted that Tang Juan “‘was a fugitive from justice until last night,’ a senior Justice Department official said, but has now been charged in Sacramento.”
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