(CMR) The Chinese Consulate in Houston was closed on Friday (July 24) following an order from the US State Department.
The State Department noted that the consulate's closure was necessary to protect American intellectual property and the private information of US citizens.
The state department accused the entity of spying as well as, lobbying state and local officials to favour Chinese interest.
In addition, reference was made to a Chinese national who evaded arrest by camping out in the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.
According to the release from the US Department of Justice four individuals had recently been charged with visa fraud in connection with a scheme to lie about their status as members of the People’s Liberation Army, China’s military, while conducting research in the U.S.
“Three of these individuals have been arrested and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking the fourth, who is a fugitive, currently being harboured at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco,” read the release from the DOJ.
In addition to these arrests, the FBI said it had recently conducted additional interviews of visa holders suspected of having undeclared affiliation with the Chinese military in more than 25 American cities.
An official from the state department said that the individuals charged represented a “microcosm … of a broader network of individuals” who are “supported through the consulates here” which assist in helping them “to evade and obstruct” investigation.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demer noted that the arrests were ” another part of the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions”.
China currently maintains consulates in four U.S. cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.