The entrance to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, damaged in an arson fire on New Year's Day. (Sara Bloomberg/KQED)
The entrance to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, damaged in an arson fire on New Year’s Day. (Sara Bloomberg/KQED)

The man accused of trying to set fire to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on New Year’s Day reportedly told FBI agents he attacked the building because he had been hearing voices “and the … consulate had to have been involved.”

According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court over the weekend, Yan Feng, 39, called Daly City police on Friday and “identified himself as the individual who ‘made the fire’ in front of the Chinese Embassy.'” Daly City police arrested Feng the same day and held him for questioning by a team of FBI agents.

The affidavit said Feng, a Chinese national, admitted filling three containers with gasoline and splashing it on the front door and front steps of the Laguna Street consulate. He is said to have told agents he tried to light the fuel with his passport. When that didn’t work, the affidavit says, he lit the gasoline with a cigarette lighter.

As to his motive, the affidavit says:

“Yan Feng … stated in substance that he targeted the Chinese Consulate because all the voices he had been hearing were in Chinese and the Chinese Consulate had to have been involved.”

At a press conference today, FBI officials emphasized the case was not politically motivated or a terrorist incident, a point echoed by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.

“It was so important to close this matter quickly so that anybody couldn’t make of it more than it was,” Suhr said.

Feng faces two counts of maliciously damaging property by means of fire and willfully damaging property belonging to or occupied by a foreign government. He’s scheduled to appear in federal court on Tuesday.

Here’s the FBI affidavit released today:


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at

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