Singapore man admits being Chinese spy in US

Flags of China (left) and the US. File photo Image copyright Getty Images/AFP

A Singaporean man has pleaded responsible within the US to working as an agent of China, the newest incident in a rising stand-off between Washington and Beijing.

Jun Wei Yeo was charged with utilizing his political consultancy in America as a entrance to gather data for Chinese intelligence, US officers say.

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

China earlier ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.

The move to close down the diplomatic mission within the south-western metropolis was in response to the US closing China’s consulate in Houston.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the choice was taken as a result of China was “stealing” mental property.

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

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A US official guards the previous Chinese consulate in Houston after doorways had been compelled open on Friday afternoon

After a 72-hour deadline for Chinese diplomats to go away the Houston consulate expired on Friday at 16:00 (21:00 GMT) reporters noticed males who seemed to be US officers drive open a door to enter the premises. Uniformed employees from the US State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security took up place to protect the doorway.

Tensions have been rising between the 2 nuclear powers over a number of key points.

President Donald Trump’s administration has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over commerce and the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to China’s imposition of a controversial new safety legislation in Hong Kong.

What is thought concerning the Singaporean nationwide?

Jun Wei Yeo, often known as Dickson Yeo, on Friday pleaded responsible in a federal courtroom to working as an unlawful agent of the Chinese authorities in 2015-19, the US Department of Justice mentioned in an announcement.

He was earlier charged with utilizing his political consultancy within the nation as a entrance to gather invaluable, personal data for Chinese intelligence.

In his responsible plea, he admitted to scouting for Americans with high-level safety clearance and getting them to jot down reviews for pretend shoppers. According to courtroom paperwork he was recruited by Chinese intelligence in 2015 after giving a presentation in Beijing.

At the time he was a PhD pupil at a prestigious Singaporean college.

According to the responsible plea, Mr Yeo used knowledgeable networking web site – assumed to be LinkedIn – to contact potential targets prone to have entry to delicate data.

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

And what concerning the arrested Chinese researcher?

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

She was amongst 4 Chinese nationals charged earlier this week with visa fraud for allegedly mendacity about serving in China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Juan Tang was the final of the 4 to be detained in California, after the US had accused the Chinese consulate in San Francisco of harbouring her.

It was not instantly clear how she was arrested.

FBI brokers have discovered footage of Juan Tang wearing army uniform and reviewed articles in China figuring out her army affiliation, the Associated Press reviews.

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

Why is there stress between China and the US?

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Image caption US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping

There are numerous elements in play. US officers have blamed China for the worldwide unfold of Covid-19. More particularly, President Donald Trump has alleged, with out presenting proof, that the virus originated from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan.

And, in unsubstantiated remarks, a Chinese overseas ministry spokesman mentioned in March that the US army might need introduced the virus to Wuhan.

The US and China have additionally been locked in a tariff battle since 2018.

Mr Trump has lengthy accused China of unfair buying and selling practices and mental property theft, however in Beijing there’s a notion that the US is attempting to curb its rise as a world financial energy.

The US has additionally imposed sanctions on Chinese politicians who it says are chargeable for human rights violations in opposition to Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. China is accused of mass detentions, spiritual persecution and compelled sterilisation of Uighurs and others.

Beijing denies the allegations and has accused the US of “gross interference” in its home affairs.

What about Hong Kong?

China’s imposition of a sweeping safety legislation there may be additionally a supply of stress in relations with the US and the UK, which administered the territory till 1997.

In response, the US final week revoked Hong Kong’s particular buying and selling standing, which allowed it to keep away from tariffs imposed on Chinese items by the US.

The US and UK see the safety legislation as a risk to the freedoms Hong Kong has loved underneath a 1984 settlement between China and the UK – earlier than sovereignty reverted to Beijing.

The UK has angered China by outlining a path to UK citizenship for nearly three million Hong Kong residents.

China responded by threatening to cease recognising a sort of British passport – BNO – held by lots of these living in Hong Kong.