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‘Chinese consulate in Houston was hub of spying’: Mike Pompeo

Top officials in the United States have escalated their public condemnations of China in the last several weeks, with speeches by FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The allegation comes amid rising tension between the US and China, particularly related to theft of intellectual property for Beijing’s benefit. Just this week, the US ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, and the Justice Department charged two Chinese hackers with targeting firms working on vaccines for the coronavirus.

In a speech in California on Thursday, Pompeo said the consulate had been “a hub of spying”.

“This week we closed down China’s consulate in Houston because it was a hub of spying and intellectual property theft,” Pompeo said.

This was the first major speech delivered by Pompeo after Washington’s surprise order this week for China to close its Houston consulate, where the US Secretary of State called for an end to “blind engagement” with China. He also repeated frequently levelled US charges about its unfair trade practices, human rights abuses and efforts to infiltrate American society.

The remarks came after the US Justice Department said that the Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harbouring a harbouring a researcher who lied about her links with the country’s military. The justice department announced charges against that scientist and three others accused of concealing their government ties.

According to federal prosecutors quoted by CNN, the scientist Tang Juan is hiding in China’s consulate in San Francisco. Juan is a researcher who focuses on biology, the CNN reported.

She was charged with visa fraud on June 26.

The Federal Bureu of Investigation (FBI), meanwhile, has interviewed visa holders in more than 25 American cities who are suspected of concealing their ties to the Chinese military. The Justice Department believes that the deception is part of an ongoing, government-sponsored effort to steal research and innovation from American universities for Beijing’s economic gain.

China, meanwhile, said that the US decision to close its Houston consulate had “severely harmed” relations and warned it “must” retaliate, without detailing what it would do.

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