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January 07, 2014

China Urges US to Punish Accused Arsonist in Consulate Fire

by VOA News

Authorities in China are urging the United States to aggressively pursue charges against a California man accused of setting fire to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on New Year's Day.

Yan Feng turned himself in to local police Friday, two days after the consular offices sustained fire and smoke damage.

Reacting to the arrest, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying urged the U.S. to "thoroughly investigate the case" and "punish the troublemaker."

She also called on America to "take measures to safeguard Chinese diplomatic and consular institutions."

The 39-year-old Feng was charged Monday with arson and causing damage to property of a foreign government.

FBI special agent David Johnson said Feng's motives were not clear and that there were no obvious political motivations.

"We investigated this incident as a criminal matter and there are no indications at this time to suggest that it was motivated by terrorism, politics, or civil rights issues," Johnson said.

An FBI affidavit said Feng told investigators he targeted the consulate because "all the voices he had been hearing were in Chinese and the Chinese consulate had to be involved." It gave no further explanation.

No one was hurt and there was no major damage, but many in China reacted angrily to the New Year's Day blaze.

Chinese state media have blamed the fire on lax U.S. security and say it is proof of widespread anti-China sentiment.

Some on Chinese social media Tuesday expressed surprise the fire was allegedly set by a Chinese citizen.

Feng is a permanent resident of the U.S., though the FBI has not disclosed his birthplace.