Researcher who took refuge in China consulate in US custody

A Chinese researcher who took refuge at China’s San Francisco consulate in a bid to avoid visa fraud charges has been arrested, according to the US Department of Justice, and is expected to appear in court on July 27.

Juan Tang, who is accused of hiding her ties to the Chinese military when she applied for a visa to work in the United States, was being held at a jail in Sacramento County, California, records showed on Friday. The US Department of Justice, in a statement, said Tang was taken into “federal custody by the FBI on an arrest warrant” and was expected to appear in a federal court on Monday.

Tang’s detention came as the department warned Americans living in China of the “heightened risk of arbitrary detention”. It also announced in a separate statement that a Singaporean man had pleaded guilty to using his political consultancy in the US as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence. The developments come against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing, with ties deteriorating over trade, China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its policies in the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Earlier on Friday, Beijing also ordered the US to shut down its consulate in the city of Chengdu. The move was in retaliation for Washington’s decision to shut down China’s consulate in Houston amid allegations that Chinese agents tried to steal medical and other research in the state of Texas. China dismisses the claim as “malicious slander” and urged the US to “create the necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track”.

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