A Singaporean man has pleaded guilty in the US to working as an agent of China, the latest incident in a growing stand-off between Washington and Beijing.
Jun Wei Yeo was charged with using his political consultancy in America as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, US officials say.
Separately, the US said a Chinese researcher accused of hiding her ties to China’s military was detained.
China earlier ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.
The move to shut down the diplomatic mission in the south-western city was in response to the US closing China’s consulate in Houston.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision was taken because China was “stealing” intellectual property.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded by saying that the US move was based on “a hodgepodge of anti-Chinese lies”.
After a 72-hour deadline for Chinese diplomats to leave the Houston consulate expired on Friday at 16:00 (21:00 GMT) reporters saw men who appeared to be US officials force open a door to enter the premises. Uniformed staff from the US State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security took up position to guard the entrance.
Tensions have been rising between the two nuclear powers over several key issues.
President Donald Trump’s administration has clashed repeatedly with Beijing over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as China’s imposition of a controversial new security law in Hong Kong.
Jun Wei Yeo, also known as Dickson Yeo, on Friday pleaded guilty in a federal court to working as an illegal agent of the Chinese government in 2015-19, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
He was earlier charged with using his political consultancy in the country as a front to collect valuable, non-public information for Chinese intelligence.
In his guilty plea, he admitted to scouting for Americans with high-level security clearance and getting them to write reports for fake clients.
Mr Yeo was arrested as he flew in to the US in 2019.