United States expelled Chinese officials after they drove onto military base

Clay Curtis
December 16, 2019

Two Chinese diplomats have been secretly kicked out of the United States after driving onto a sensitive military base in Virginia - the first such expulsions in more than 30 years, according to a report Sunday.

According to the Times, U.S. officials believe at least one of the officials expelled is a Chinese intelligence officer using fraudulent diplomatic as cover.

The officials, who were with their wives, were reportedly told to go through the gate and turn around after they were denied access at the base's checkpoint, but they continued driving before being stopped.

The Chinese Embassy officials' expulsions appear to be the first since the US expelled two Chinese Embassy employees with diplomatic cover more than 30 years ago.

Officials at the Chinese Embassy "complained to State Department officials about the expulsions", the Times reported, noting that the action comes amid heightened tensions between the USA and China, "the world's two largest economies and biggest strategic rivals".

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

The US government did not accept their explanation that they simply got lost and had not understood the guard's instructions in English.

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The two countries were in the middle of tense trade negotiations at the time.

The State Department did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment on the report.

In October, the State Department required all Chinese diplomats stationed in the USA to give notice before meeting with American officials.

Investigators have been asking American universities to keep a closer watch on students and visiting Chinese scholars, and past year U.S. President Donald Trump signed a law prohibiting the U.S. government from buying telecom and surveillance equipment from Chinese companies Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp 000063.SZ .

China instituted similar restrictions on U.S. diplomats in December.

The paper cited sources briefed on the trespass who theorized that it was a test of the base's security and could be followed up by a team of more senior intelligence officers trying to enter the facility.

It is not clear if the restrictions were linked to the incident in Virginia.

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