US covertly expelled Chinese officials who drove on to military base – report – The Guardian

The US government covertly moved to expel two officials from the Chinese embassy earlier this year after they drove on to a military base, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported that one of the two officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.

The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this autumn and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment. The state department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the incident. The Chinese foreign ministry and Chinese embassy in Washington did not reply to requests by the Times for comment.

Though the exact reason for why the officials drove on to the base in Norfolk, Virginia was unknown, US officials believe it may have been to test security, one source told the newspaper.

When they finally stopped driving, the officials told military guards they were lost.

Weeks later, on 16 October, the state department issued new rules on Chinese diplomats which require them to notify the department before any meetings with local or state officials, or with educational and research institutions.

The US has stepped up efforts to combat concerns about suspected spying by the Chinese.

Investigators have been asking US universities to keep a closer watch on students and visiting Chinese scholars, and last year Donald Trump signed a law prohibiting the US government from buying telecom and surveillance equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

The administration also slapped tariffs on a variety of Chinese goods, and the justice department has aggressively pursued prosecutions of suspected spies.


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