United States diplomat in China has brain injury after hearing 'abnormal' sounds

Oscar Cross
May 23, 2018

The unnamed American citizen assigned to the consulate in Guangzhou had reported a variety of "physical symptoms" dating from late 2017 to April this year, the United States embassy in Beijing said in an email.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the brain injury sustained by an American official in China was "very similar" to those that affected USA and Canadian diplomats in Cuba.

An American working at the US Consulate in southern China reported experiencing "abnormal" sounds and pressure that resulted in a mild brain injury - reminiscent of a mysterious illness that recently hit diplomats in Cuba, officials said Wednesday.

The department said it wasn't aware of any similar situations in China, either within the diplomatic community or among others.

The alert from the US consulate in Guangzhou also told US Citizens: "While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source".

Though the department has not linked this case to any other incident, news of unusual symptoms hitting USA government employees overseas will no doubt draw comparison to a rash of mysterious "sonic attacks" on US and Canadian diplomats stationed in Cuba.


At least 24 Americans who had worked or travelled in Cuba reported a range of medical symptoms beginning in November 2016, USA officials told CBS News a year ago. The person was sent to the United States and diagnosed with MTBI on May 18.

"We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana and now in China as well", Pompeo said. "Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present", recommends the State Department.

The spokeswoman, Jinnie Lee, said the department is taking the incident "very seriously". That evaluation found that the employee's symptoms were similar to those of someone with a head concussion or mild traumatic brain injury. "The Chinese government has assured us they are also investigating and taking appropriate measures", a consular spokeswoman explained to The Washington Post.

China's Foreign Ministry and National Health Commission did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the report. Media reports have suggested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has not been able to verify any evidence to support the sonic weapon theory.

The victims suffered headaches, hearing loss, disorientation and some loss of cognitive ability.

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