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Iran Press TV

Chinese-American accused by US of spying for Beijing

Iran Press TV

Tue Oct 1, 2019 04:13PM

A naturalized US citizen of Chinese descent working as a tour guide near San Francisco, California, has been charged by US officials of being an agent of the Chinese government and providing China with classified US national security information.

Xuehua Peng, also known as Edward Peng, was taken into custody on Friday in Hayward, California, and was denied bail during an initial court appearance, federal prosecutors said Monday at a news conference.

"Defendant Xuehua (Edward) Peng is charged with executing dead drops, delivering payments, and personally carrying to Beijing, China, secure digital cards containing classified information related to the national security of the United States," US Attorney David Anderson said.

A dead drop is a technique used by spies to pass items or information without requiring agents to directly meet one another.

Anderson claimed the evidence against Peng's alleged espionage activities, which had been investigated by the FBI, proved he was a spy for China.

The SD memory card and other evidence linked to the case provide "a rare glimpse into the secret efforts of the People's Republic of China to obtain classified national security information from the United States," Anderson said.

Peng, 56, who worked as a tour guide in the San Francisco area, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted for acting as an illegal foreign agent, prosecutors said.

Peng's next hearing has been scheduled at a court in San Francisco on October 2.

The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice, National Security Division.

Peng, who is a specialist in traditional Chinese medicine, arrived in the US on a business visa and later became a permanent resident in 2006 following his marriage to his then wife. In 2012, he became a naturalized US citizen.

The charges raised against Peng come amid a tense relationship between the two economic and military global heavyweights tied in a trade war and territory disputes.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly rebuked China for its trade practices, saying he would not accept a "bad deal" in US-China trade negotiations.

The US State Department has expressed concern about reports of alleged Chinese obstruction of oil and gas activities in the South China Sea, an important international medium through which billions of dollars worth of goods pass by sea or air, annually.

China, for its part, has warned the US to avoid falling into traps of "conflict and confrontation".

The Chinese have urged Washington many times to refrain from opposing Beijing as the two sides were engaged in a wide-range of business cooperation in different fields, reminding the Americans that it was not in the interests of both sides to severe their friendly diplomatic relations and economic ties.

However, it has also reminded the Americans that in case of an escalation in tensions, China would not back off. China will "resolutely take action" and "fight at all costs" to defend its sovereignty, China's Defense Minister Wei Fenghe warned the US earlier this year.

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