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Concerns over Chinese Secret Police Stations in U.S.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray | Image by REUTERS

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The U.S. government is concerned over the existence of unauthorized “police stations” allegedly set up in American cities by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Back in October, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that charges had been drawn against eight Chinese nationals for allegedly acting on behalf of the PRC to conduct illegal operations in the U.S.

Operation Fox Hunt and Operation Skynet are two such operations said to be secretly waged by the PRC worldwide, with the aim of policing Chinese nationals and forcibly repatriating them for trial for alleged criminal activity. This entails stalking and harassing the family members of their target, as well.

The authorities have seen increasing activity of the PRC on U.S. soil. According to Wray, there have been several indictments involving Chinese agents harassing, stalking, surveilling, and blackmailing people in the U.S. for their political dissent.

An investigation led by Safeguard Defenders, a human rights organization that monitors hostile environments in Asia, uncovered dozens of alleged secret police stations worldwide. The organization claims that PRC is seeking to bring Chinese nationals living abroad back “by any means necessary.”

As reported by the Safeguard Defenders, the PRC claimed to have “persuaded” 230,000 Chinese nationals to return to the county and face criminal proceedings between April 2021 and July 2022.

According to a Safeguard Defenders’ report published in September, these stations not only act as an extension of Beijing’s efforts to pressure certain Chinese nationals to return to face criminal charges. They are also linked to the activities of China’s United Front Work Department, a Communist Party body charged with spreading its influence and propaganda overseas.

While Wray declined to detail the Bureau’s investigative work on these police stations, he did say that the Bureau was “looking into the legal parameters.”

He also expressed his astonishment at the matter as a whole.

“[It] is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop, you know, in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination. It violates sovereignty, and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes,” he said.

Wray emphasized that the U.S. is not the only country targeted by the PRC’s operations. “It’s a real problem and something that we’re talking with our foreign partners about, as well, because we’re not the only country where this has occurred,” he said.

Earlier this month, an investigation into the alleged harassment of a Chinese national in the Netherlands uncovered two illegal police stations. While the PRC maintained that they were to help Chinese nationals renew documents, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since ordered their closure.

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