Two Chinese diplomats have been secretly kicked out of the US after driving onto a sensitive military base in Virginia — the first such expulsions in more than 30 years, according to a report Sunday.
The Chinese Embassy officials were stopped in September at a base in Norfolk that is home to Special Operations forces — after they were chased by military personnel, according to The New York Times.
At least one is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover, The Times said, citing six people with knowledge of the expulsions.
The officials had been with their wives when they drove up to a checkpoint at the base, and were only allowed in to make a U-turn to immediately leave again, the report said.
They instead continued driving into the base, evading military personnel — and only stopping when they were blocked by fire trucks, the paper said.
The diplomats claimed they did not understand the guard’s English instructions, but officials believe they were testing security there to perhaps later dispatch other intelligence officers, The Times said.
The pair were then expelled from the US — the first known expulsion of Chinese diplomats since 1987 and a move that was not announced by either Washington or Beijing, The Times said.
The expulsion comes during ongoing tensions between the US and China amid a trade war.
However, China has not retaliated by expelling American diplomats –perhaps a sign that Chinese officials know the diplomats overstepped the mark and were too brazen, The Times said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Chinese Embassy in Washington did not reply to the paper’s requests for comment.
The State Department, which is responsible for relations with the Chinese Embassy and its diplomats, and the F.B.I., which oversees counterintelligence in the United States, also declined to comment.
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