National Security

Feds Nab Chinese Researcher Who Took Refuge in Consulate

U.C. Davis researcher concealed military ties in visa application

The Chinese consulate in San Francisco / Getty Images

A Chinese military researcher who entered a Chinese consulate in San Francisco to avoid arrest by the FBI is now in custody, according to administration officials.

In June, federal authorities issued an arrest warrant for Juan Tang, a researcher at U.C. Davis, for concealing her affiliation with the Chinese military in her visa application. Tang evaded arrest by seeking refuge in the Chinese consulate. Senior administration officials confirmed that Tang is now in custody as of Thursday night and is expected to appear in federal court on Friday.

It is unclear how U.S. authorities arrested Tang. Officials declined to comment on why the consulate allowed the arrest to happen, saying that additional details will be revealed at the court appearance.

Tang's arrest is the latest success in the FBI's recent push to crack down on Chinese state espionage in American academia. Federal authorities have arrested several other Chinese and U.S. researchers at American institutions for lying about their ties to the Chinese military or the Thousand Talents Program, a program the FBI sees as an avenue of "non-traditional espionage" for the Chinese government. High-profile arrests have included Prof. Charles Lieber, the former chair of Harvard University's chemistry department, who concealed from federal investigators the fact that he had received funding from the Thousand Talents Program.

Administration officials said the government continues to fight back against Chinese intelligence efforts, noting that the FBI opens a new counterintelligence investigation tied to China every 10 hours.

The Trump administration also closed down a different Chinese consulate in Houston, ordering the consulate staff to end operations by Friday. Administration officials said the decision to close down the Houston consulate was "not random" and that the consulate was particularly aggressive in its attempts to steal U.S. intellectual property and recruit American researchers.