The federal government has entered the Chinese Consulate in Houston after taking a Chinese fugitive scientist into custody at the nation’s San Francisco Consulate.
Earlier this week, the Houston police and fire department were called to the consulate over reports that they were burning documents in the courtyard. The Chinese did not allow them entry to the building, but were evicted on Friday.
BREAKING: U.S. officials have breached the locked Chinese consulate in Houston – @HoustonChron
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) July 24, 2020
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According to the Houston Chronicle, US officials had to use power tools to pry open a back door after failing to breach three different entrances.
CHINESE CONSULATE HOUSTON CLOSURE: U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security along with other law enforcement officials now standing guard after U.S. officials opened the doors up at the former Chinese consulate less than an hour ago. @KPRC2 #CHINA #Consulate pic.twitter.com/3JDitKVj9W
— Mario Diaz (@KPRC2Mario) July 24, 2020
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) July 24, 2020
The State Department ordered the consulate to shut down earlier this week after declaring it to be one of several Chinese diplomatic outposts in the US facilitating influence efforts on behalf of China that have become “the coercive or the covert.”
“The sum total of the Houston consulate’s activities went well over the line of what we’re willing to accept, and unless we disrupted it, it threatened to become even more aggressive in Houston and in other Chinese consulates nationwide,” a senior Justice Department official told reporters on a briefing call organized by the State Department.
July 23, at the side door of Chinese Consulate in Houston
9:30 PM, staff began to move small items to a UHaul.
At about 10:00 PM, an 18-wheeled cargo was seen to carry the packed cartons.
11:00 PM, loading continues.
— Fan Matisse (@FanMatisse) July 24, 2020
Approximately 100 anti-Communist protesters also heckled the Houston consulate’s staff as they left the building.
Reuters reports that “Shortly after the 4 p.m. (2100 GMT) deadline to close the consulate, a group of people were seen by a Reuters journalist forcing there way into a back door. They declined to identify themselves to Reuters.”
On Friday, it was announced that Chinese scientist Tang Juan was taken into custody on Thursday evening.
CNN reports that “prosecutors earlier this week said that Tang concealed her connection to China’s military in order to enter the US, lied to federal investigators about those links and subsequently tried to avoid arrest by taking refuge in the San Francisco consulate.”
During an interview with the FBI on June 20, “Tang denied serving in the Chinese military, claimed she did not know the meaning of the insignia on her uniform, and that wearing a military uniform was required for attendance at FMMU because it was a military school,” according to a court filing. However, the feds “discovered photographs of her in the uniform of the Civilian Cadre of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)” and that she had been employed as a researcher at the Fourth Military Medical University.