Chinese Communist Party officials operating at a consulate building in Houston, Texas, engaged in espionage operations on Beijing’s behalf and waged cyberattacks across the United States for at least a decade in one of the most sophisticated operations of its nature, according to senior law enforcement and State Department officials.
The Chinese consulate in Houston was ordered by the Trump administration to shutter its operations as of Friday, though it is unclear if China will heed this order. Communist Party officials have been caught shredding documents and other materials since the order was handed down earlier this week in what American officials say is an attempt to destroy evidence of these espionage operations.
The Houston facility is one of 25 known locations across the United States in which China installed undercover operatives to spy on the American government, U.S. businesses, and academic research institutions, according to multiple senior Trump administration officials familiar with the activities. From these outposts, Chinese officials “facilitated covert activity by instructing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) members to purposefully violate U.S. laws by making false statements on their visa applications and lying about their affiliation with the PLA,” according to information provided by the State Department. The Houston consulate served as a central base of operations and “targeted more than 50 Houston-area researchers, professors, and academics for participation in Chinese talent plans,” which enlist Americans to steal sensitive research on behalf of the Communist Party.
The Trump administration’s landmark order shuttering the Houston consulate is just one piece of a larger effort to thwart Chinese espionage operations in the United States, which officials say have gone unchecked for decades. The Trump administration is expected to take further actions, which include sanctions on officials and the arrest of hackers known to steal information on the Communist Party’s behalf. – READ MORE
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