A Singaporean national has pleaded guilty to spying for China in the U.S., according to the Department of Justice.
The department said in a statement on Friday evening that the defendant, Jun Wei Yeo, entered the plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
It said Jun admitted to establishing a fake consultancy firm to collect sensitive information for Chinese intelligence.
At the direction of Chinese intelligence operatives, the defendant targeted U.S. government employees and an army officer to obtain information for the government of China, the justice department said.
“The Chinese government uses an array of duplicity to obtain sensitive information from unsuspecting Americans.
“Yeo was central to one such scheme, using career networking sites and a false consulting firm to lure Americans who might be of interest to the Chinese government.
“This is yet another example of the Chinese government’s exploitation of the openness of American society,” the Assistant Attorney General, John Demers, was quoted saying.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this is the latest in the escalating tensions between the U.S. and China.
It came hours after U.S. authorities announced the arrest of a Chinese researcher accused of concealing her ties to her country’s military.
Juan Tang, 37, is facing visa fraud charges alongside three other Chinese scientists living in the U.S.
They are alleged to have lied about their statuses as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army in their visa applications.
On Tuesday, the U.S. gave China 72 hours to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, for allegedly using it as an operation base for stealing intellectual property from the U.S.
Reacting, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, described the move as an “unprecedented escalation” in U.S.’ “recent actions against China”.
Beijing retaliated by ordering the closure of the U.S. consulate in the south-western city of Chengdu.
According to reports, at the expiration of the 72-hour deadline on Friday, U.S. officials stormed the consulate in Houston and forced their way onto the premises.
The officials said to be from the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, stood guard at the entrance.
The administration of President Donald Trump has been clashing with China recently over issues relating to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, trade, and Hong Kong.