Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a Congressional panel Wednesday that a "sonic attack" on a U.S. official reported in Guangzhou, China, was similar to incidents in Cuba where U.S. diplomats later became ill.
"The medical indications are very similar, and entirely consistent with, the medical indications that were taking place to Americans working in Cuba," Pompeo said during testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the possible U.S.-North Korea summit.
He said that medical teams are en route to the southern Chinese city to investigate the mysterious incident.
The State Department issued a health alert earlier Wednesday after a government employee stationed in Guangzhou was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury. The official reported "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure," the State Department reported.
The alert cautioned any personnel in China who experienced "acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises" to leave the area.
The report of the mysterious incident comes at a sensitive time for U.S.-China relations. The Trump administration recently threatened to impose steep tariffs on Chinese imported goods unless Beijing pledges to make big cuts in its trade surplus with the U.S. China, in turn, retaliated with threats of big tariffs on farm products and auto parts.
Trump said Tuesday that his administration also may seek a fine of as much as $1.3 billion against Chinese telecom company ZTE and demand management changes. The administration barred U.S. companies from selling components to ZTE, saying the company had violated American sanctions on North Korea and Iran. The Chinese firm has said the ban threatened its survival.