Fugitive Chinese Researcher Harbored By Chinese Consulate Taken into Custody

July 24, 2020 Updated: July 27, 2020

A fugitive Chinese researcher who took refuge in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco has been taken into federal custody, according to online jail records.

U.S. authorities had been seeking Tang Juan, a researcher at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), who fled to the consulate after being questioned by FBI agents on June 20. She was charged on June 26 for allegedly lying in her visa application and concealing her status as a member of the Chinese military.

Jail records show that U.S. Marshals arrested Tang on Thursday and she was detained overnight at the Sacramento County Main Jail. U.S. authorities are not allowed to enter foreign diplomatic missions without permission. It is not clear if Tang voluntarily surrendered herself to federal officers. The Justice Department and FBI did not immediately respond to queries.

Tang is expected to appear before the Eastern District of California court on Friday afternoon.

She is one of four Chinese researchers recently charged with hiding their ties to the Chinese military, officially known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Justice Department said.

Federal prosecutors allege Tang is a uniformed officer of the PLA Air Forces. The FBI found publicly available photos of Tang in military uniform and references to her employment as a researcher at the Air Force Military Medical University (FMMU), court documents said.

Tang was interviewed by the FBI at her residence in Davis, California, on June 20, during which she denied serving in the Chinese military. She told agents she had worn the military uniform because it was a requirement for attending FMMU, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said the FBI later found another photo of Tang in a different PLA military uniform.

She went to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, where she remained until July 23.

“As the Tang case demonstrates, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco provides a potential safe harbor for a PLA official intent on avoiding prosecution in the United States,” prosecutors said in a court document.

If found guilty, Tang faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

These revelations come after the United States ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close by Friday afternoon, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accusing it of being a “hub of spying and intellectual property theft.” In retaliation, the Chinese regime on July 24 ordered the U.S. consulate in the city of Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan to close down.

Follow Cathy on Twitter: @CathyHe_ET