Chinese government has warned Washington it may detain Americans in China in response to the Justice Department's prosecution of Chinese military-affiliated scholars, the Wall Street Journal reported according to Reuters.
They're telling Washington that China may round up U.S. nationals there unless charges against Chinese military-affiliated scholars in America are dropped. The warnings, sent through several channels-including Beijing's US Embassy-began this summer after Chinese scientists were arrested in America and accused of hiding their active-duty standing with the People's Liberation Army.
Asked for a response, the State Department said only that U.S. citizens in China could face various legal hassles that "will prohibit your departure from China until the issue is resolved". The U.S. State Department has yet to publicly address the threats.
China's Foreign Ministry responded at the time by stating that their diplomats "have never engaged in activities incompatible with their status".
John Demers, head of the Justice Department's national security division, similarly did not offer a comment on the current report.
The U.S. has affixed tariffs on Chinese imports, restricted Chinese corporations over national security concerns, and sought to counter Beijing's military buildup in the South China Sea. But former USA national security officials say the Justice Department's cases against the military-affiliated researchers, who were arrested as they had prepared to leave the country, represented a major, public embarrassment for China in a way that other us actions targeting China haven't. This incident as well as others involving Chinese researchers over the summer is said to have accelerated the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, which led to the reciprocal shutting of the US consulate in Chengdu, China.
"DOJ's recent moves represent a full-on assault of one of China's most revered institutions, the PLA", Mr. Singleton said.
In June, Chinese scientist Juan Tang, a medical researcher at the University of California, was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation before taking refuge in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.
Prosecutors were cited to have claimed in court papers that in some instances, the researchers brought to the Chinese Embassy in Washington were instructed by their country's diplomats to delete or reset all their electronic devices to prepare them for questioning by U.S. officers at the airport.
Currently, Tang is out on bail and awaiting her trial. She was consequently charged with visa fraud and making deceptive statements when she emerged from the facility in July.