Chinese Army Officer Working At UCSF Arrested At LAX

Xin Wang, a Chinese army officer who had been conducting research at UCSF, was arrested at LAX on June 7. Photo courtesy of Upal Patel.

SAN FRANCISCO—The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California released a statement on Thursday, June 11, announcing the arrest of Xin Wang, a Chinese army officer conducting research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who has now been charged with visa fraud.

Wang, 36, was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on his way to Tianjin, China.

A criminal complaint was lodged against Wang on Sunday, June 7, by FBI Special Agent Patrick Fogerty, who currently works in the FBI’s San Francisco division. Fogerty claimed that Wang had lied on his visa application about his status as an active member of China’s military.

The complaint states that Wang received a visa on December 17, 2018. His visa application claimed that he was an employee of the Air Force Military University; that he was going to the U.S. to do research at UCSF; and that he was a former Associate Professor in Medicine in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Wang’s application said that his PLA service had ended in 2016.

With his visa approval, Wang arrived at the San Francisco International Airport on March 26, 2019.

On June 7, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at LAX detained Wang for questioning.

According to the criminal complaint, Wang admitted to “intentionally [making] false statements about his military service in his visa application in order to increase the likelihood that he would receive his J1 visa.”

Wang revealed that he is still serving in the PLA as a technician and was still receiving funding from the PLA during his time in the U.S. He also stated that he had been funded by a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announcement also notes that Wang admitted to gathering information on UCSF’s lab research in order to share it with members of the PLA, under the instruction of the director at his military university lab in China.

Wang had been a post-doctoral scholar in cardiovascular research at UCSF’s School of Medicine.

UCSF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

So far, Wang has only been charged with visa fraud.

At 10 a.m. on Friday, June 12, Wang appeared before Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Choolijian for a detention hearing. His first court appearance was four days earlier on Monday, June 8, and he has been detained since.

The FBI continues to investigate this case.