The US government has secretly expelled two Chinese diplomats, according to a newspaper report.
The two embassy staff went to a military base in the state of Virginia in September, the New York Times reports. Accordingly, at least one of the two was a member of the Chinese secret service.
If the information is correct, Chinese diplomats have now been expelled from the United States for suspected espionage for the first time in more than 30 years. The "New York Times" refers to statements by six insiders who are responsible for the matter. Neither Washington nor Beijing had made the expulsion public.
According to the report, the two diplomats and their wives had gone to the entrance to the grounds of the military base, where special forces are stationed. The security guard would have noticed that they had no access rights and asked them to drive through the gate, turn around and drive out again. But the Chinese embassy staff did not turn around, but drove to the site. They could only be stopped when fire engines blocked their way.
They later claimed that they did not understand the guardian's instructions in English. However, the US staff did not believe the intruders that it was just a misunderstanding.
Several incidents with Chinese officials
The incident intensifies US government fears that Chinese spies may be spying on the country. According to American intelligence officials, China poses a greater threat in this regard than any other country.
According to the report, there have been frequent incidents in the past few months with Chinese officials who have appeared unannounced in research or government institutions. The ID cards now show that the US is ready to take a harder course against potential spies from China.
The US government had already announced in mid-October that it would restrict the freedom of Chinese diplomats to take action. Accordingly, they must officially register if they want to meet with local or state officials or if they want to gain access to educational or research facilities.
The Chinese embassy protested against these guidelines. They represented a violation of the Vienna Convention on Contract Law.
A trade conflict has been smoldering between the two largest economic powers in the world for over a year and a half, which is now also weighing on the global economy. A relaxation had been hinted at on Friday: the USA and China announced an agreement on a trade agreement. China has also formally overthrown retaliatory duties on Sunday.