US charges four scientists for hiding ties to Chinese government, including one ‘in hiding at consulate’
- FBI interviewed visa holders in more than 25 US cities suspected of concealing their ties to the PLA
- Tang Juan accused by Justice Department of lying about military affiliation in a visa application before doing research at the University of California
The Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harbouring a Chinese researcher who lied about her military background, the US Justice Department said on Thursday as it announced charges against that scientist and three others accused of concealing their government ties.
The four researchers are accused of lying on applications to work in the United States about their status as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. All are charged with visa fraud.
The FBI, meanwhile, has interviewed visa holders in more than 25 American cities who are suspected of concealing their ties to the Chinese military. The Justice Department believes that the deception is part of an ongoing, government-sponsored effort to steal research and innovation from American universities for Beijing’s economic gain.
“This is another part of the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions,” John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, said in a statement.
The allegation comes amid rising tension between the US and China, particularly related to theft of intellectual property – including by Chinese researchers with military and government connections – for Beijing’s benefit. Just this week, the US ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, and the Justice Department charged two Chinese hackers with targeting firms working on vaccines for the coronavirus.