Chinese researcher who hid in consulate to appear in US court

A man waits outside of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: A Chinese researcher who took refuge in the country’s San Francisco consulate to avoid visa fraud charges has been arrested and will appear in court Friday, a US Justice department official said.

Tang Juan, who allegedly hid her ties to the People’s Liberation Army when applying to undertake cancer treatment research at University of California-Davis, is in US custody, the official, who insisted on anonymity, told reporters.

The official would not say how Tang emerged from the consulate, but noted she did not have diplomatic status that would protect her from criminal charges.

According to the charges against Tang unsealed last week in federal court in Sacramento, she arrived in the US on Dec 27 on a research exchange program.

On her visa application, she answered “no” to questions about whether she had served in the military or was a member of, or affiliated with, a communist party.

The FBI said it later found pictures of her in uniform with insignia for the PLA “civilian cadres”, and identifying information describing her as an associate researcher at a Chinese air force hospital.

In a search of her apartment in Davis, California, the FBI said they found documents indicating she was a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Tang was one of four Chinese researchers arrested and charged in recent weeks for visa fraud, all because they allegedly hid their ties to the PLA.

The Justice Department said Thursday the four are part of a Chinese effort to “infiltrate” US institutions to gain scientific and technological knowledge.