Man admits being Chinese spy in US as standoff worsens

A Singaporean man has pleaded guilty in the US to working as an agent of China, the latest incident in a growing stand-off between Washington and Beijing.

Jun Wei Yeo was charged with using his political consultancy in America as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, US officials say.

Separately, the US said a Chinese researcher accused of hiding her ties to China’s military was detained.

This comes hours after China ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu in response to the US closing China’s consulate in Houston.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision was taken because China was “stealing” intellectual property.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded by saying that the US move was based on “a hodgepodge of anti-Chinese lies”.

After a 72-hour deadline for Chinese diplomats to leave the Houston consulate expired on Friday at 16:00 (21:00 GMT) reporters saw men who appeared to be US officials force open a door to enter the premises. Uniformed staff from the US State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security took up position to guard the entrance.

President Donald Trump’s administration has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as China’s imposition of a controversial new security law in Hong Kong.

Jun Wei Yeo, also known as Dickson Yeo, on Friday pleaded guilty in a federal court to working as an illegal agent of the Chinese government in 2015-19, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

In his guilty plea, he admitted to scouting for Americans with high-level security clearance and getting them to write reports for fake clients.

Mr Yeo was arrested as he flew in to the US in 2019.

The researcher was named by US officials as Juan Tang, aged 37.

She was among four Chinese nationals charged earlier this week with visa fraud for allegedly lying about serving in China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Juan Tang was the last of the four to be detained in California, after the US had accused the Chinese consulate in San Francisco of harbouring her. It was not immediately clear how she was arrested.

FBI agents have found pictures of Juan Tang dressed in military uniform and reviewed articles in China identifying her military affiliation, the Associated Press reports.

It is quoting the University of California Davis as saying that she left her job as a visiting researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology in June.

Culled from BBC

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