TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The FBI has arrested three Chinese nationals for allegedly concealing their affiliations to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) when applying for visas to conduct research in the U.S.
Tensions between the two superpowers have escalated after the U.S. ordered China to shut down its consulate in Houston, Texas. The FBI has charged four Chinese researchers with visa fraud, with three under arrest while the fourth is believed to have sought shelter at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco following questioning by the FBI.
According to BBC, the four individuals charged with alleged visa fraud are Wang Xin (王興), Song Chen (宋晨), Zhao Kaikai (趙凱凱), and Tang Juan (唐娟). All four have either insisted they had no ties to the PLA or retired from the army, but the U.S. authorities allege they were all active military personnel when they entered the U.S.
Prosecutors believe that sending Chinese military scientists to the U.S. is part of Beijing's plan to exploit American academic institutions.
John Brown, executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, said in a statement the arrests were proof of Chinese intent to infiltrate American society. He said the FBI has interviewed PLA members in over 25 cities across the U.S. and discovered many of them have attempted to hide their affiliations with the Chinese military, reported Yahoo News.
Meanwhile, former U.S. National Intelligence Acting Director Richard Grenell suggested the U.S. should close China's San Francisco consulate as well. He said both Chinese consulates should be shut down, but it made sense to start with one, reported Reuters.