(TibetanReview.net, Apr18’23) – The FBI has arrested two alleged Chinese agents operating a secret Chinese police station in New York City while federal prosecutors have charged dozens of others with working to silence and harass dissidents within the United States – with some even operating an “undeclared police station” in New York City.
Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping, both US citizens, allegedly operated the police station in New York City’s Chinatown. They have been charged with conspiring to act as agents of the Chinese government and obstructing justice. The police station has been shut down since a search warrant was executed at the location last fall, reported the edition.cnn.com Apr 17.
Both are currently on bail, but barred from traveling within half a mile of the Chinese consulate or mission and from communicating with co-conspirators. Neither has entered a plea.
The secret police station was stated to have been set up in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighbourhood in early 2022 to identify, track and intimidate Chinese dissidents within the United States.
Lu has repeated a version of Chinese government’s previous claims, saying the illegal Chinese police station was nothing but an “oversees service center” set up to help Chinese nationals living in the United States “renew Chinese government documents.”
But human rights groups have accused China of using the outposts to threaten and monitor Chinese nationals abroad.
After initial denials, both Lu, 61, and Chen, 59, have acknowledged deleting messages between themselves and their liaison in China’s Ministry of Public Security.
If convicted, both Mr Lu and Mr Chen – facing charges of conspiring to act as agents of China’s government without informing US authorities and obstruction of justice – could be jailed for up to 25 years.
The BBC.com Apr 16 cited the Justice Department as saying the outpost was closed in autumn of 2022 after those involved became aware of an FBI investigation into the station.
This followed a 2022 investigation published by Spain-based advocacy group Safeguard Defenders, which reported that China had set up overseas “service stations,” including in New York, that illegally worked with the police in China to pressure fugitives to return to China.
The New York station is believed to be among at least 100 operating across the globe in 53 countries, including the UK and the Netherlands. Last month, Canada’s federal police announced an investigation into two Montreal-area sites thought to be police outposts, the report said.
“The PRC, through its repressive security apparatus, established a secret physical presence in New York City to monitor and intimidate dissidents and those critical of its government,” Reuters Apr 17 quoted Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen as saying in a statement. “The PRC’s actions go far beyond the bounds of acceptable nation-state conduct. We will resolutely defend the freedoms of all those living in our country from the threat of authoritarian repression.”
* * *
Meanwhile, in a separate complaint, the US Justice Department has announced charges against 34 officers from China’s Ministry of Public Security with using fake social media accounts to harass Chinese dissidents in the US and spread official Chinese government propaganda.
The officers, all believed to be living in China or elsewhere in Asia, were stated to be part of an elite task force known as “912 Special Project Working Group” to influence global perceptions of the People’s Republic of China, or PRC. It is “a troll farm that attacks persons in our country for exercising free speech,” the BBC.com report quoted US Attorney Peace as saying.
They were alleged to have used social media to post favorably about the PRC and to attack their “perceived adversaries,” including the United States and Chinese pro-democracy activists around the world.
The report cited prosecutors as saying they were alleged to have been directed by China’s Ministry of Public Security to create and maintain accounts that looked like they were run by American citizens. Topics of their propaganda machine were stated to include US foreign policy, human rights issues in Hong Kong, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Covid-19 and racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd.
The report further cited the Justice Department as saying they were alleged to have posted videos and articles targeting Chinese pro-democracy advocates in the US, some of which included explicit death threats. In addition, the agents allegedly used threats to intimidate people into skipping pro-democracy protests within the United States.
The Department of Justice has been ramping up probes into what it calls “transnational repression” by US adversaries such as China and Iran to intimidate political opponents living in the United States, said the Reuters report.