The FBI has started interviewing Chinese researchers in more than 25 cities who are suspected of being "undeclared members" of the People's Liberation Army, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It has been reported that staff members at Chinese consulates had aided researchers on security, encouraging them to "delete information" from electronic devices.
This comes amid the US ordering the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, which has been characterized as a "massive spy center," the Daily Wire reported.
The State Department announced Wednesday that China had been taking part in "massive illegal spying and influence operations throughout the United States against the US government officials and American citizens."
David Stilwell, Assistant Secretary of State, stated that the move to close down the consulate was overdue and that the criminal activity taking place within its walls had only surged since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Stilwell added that one of the major incidents that sparked the shuttering of the Houston facility was a Chinese official working alongside a China-owned airline that put "unidentified passengers on a charter flight meant for Chinese students departing Houston amid the coronavirus travel restrictions," The Journal reported.
"The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s (People's Republic of China) violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC's unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior," the State Department said in a recent statement.
"We have directed the closure of PRC Consulate General Houston, in order to protect American intellectual property and American’s [sic] private information."
Florida Senator Marco Rubio weighed in on Twitter, tweeting: "#China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue."
He continued: "#China’s consulate in #Houston is not a diplomatic facility. It is the central node of the Communist Party's vast network of spies & influence operations in the United States. Now that building must close & the spies have 72 hours to leave or face arrest. This needed to happen."
The Daily Wire reported last month that FBI Director Chris Wray said the Chinese Communist Party is "pursuing a campaign of intellectual property theft, economic espionage, cyber intrusions that target businesses—big and small—all across the country and our academic research institutions."
"And it’s everything from Fortune 100 companies to startups. It's agriculture. It’s high tech. It's aviation. It's health care. As I said before, it's our academic research institutions.”
"There's no country that presents a broader, more comprehensive threat to America's innovation, to economic security, and to our democratic ideas than China does," Wray shared with Fox News.
"Just to give you some context for that. Just as we're sitting here having this conversation, the FBI has over 2,000 active investigations that trace back to the government of China."
"The FBI is opening a new counterintelligence investigation that ties back to China every 10 hours," Wray concluded. "So you put some of those things—and that’s sort of just the tip of the iceberg."