A Chinese military officer has been arrested and charged with visa fraud while allegedly trying to steal US medical research to take back to Beijing, according to court records.
Xin Wang, a scientific researcher and high-ranking military officer with China‘s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was detained at LA International Airport Sunday when he tried to board a flight to Tianjin, China, with stolen university research materials.
Attorney David L. Anderson and FBI Special Agent John F. Bennett said in a criminal complaint unsealed this week that Wang lied on his application to obtain a visitor visa for a work-study exchange program.
He then used this visa to work with scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he collected information to take back to China under the orders of the PLA military lab.
According to the court documents, Wang made fraudulent statements on his application for a J1 non-immigrant visa application issued to him back in December 2018.
Such false statements included claims that he was no longer a member of the PLA, records show.
It stated he had served 14 years as an associate professor in medicine in the PLA but that he left in 2016.
After obtaining the visa, he then entered the US on March 26, 2019, to carry out scientific research at the UCSF.
Wang then allegedly stole information from the lab under instructions from the PLA.
This allegedly includes emailing research findings to the military lab, copying the layout of the lab so it could be replicated in China, and taking scientific research materials that he was caught trying to board the flight with.
The court records also claim WeChat messages had been wiped from Wang’s cellphone the day he tried to fly back to China.
Wang was stopped and questioned by US Customs and Border Protection personnel at the airport on Sunday and he confessed to being a Level-9 technician at the PLA’s military university lab, court records reveal.
Level-9 is said to be equivalent to the rank of a major in the US army.
He allegedly admitted to receiving funds from the PLA and the China Scholarship Council.
Customs agents also confiscated research from UCSF that Wang was carrying.
Wang was arrested and charged with visa fraud.
‘Wang stated he intentionally made false statements about his military service in his visa application in order to increase the likelihood that he would receive his J1 visa,’ court records state.
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.