Federal law enforcement officials reportedly raided a building in New York’s Chinatown late last year as part of the FBI’s efforts to rein in a secretive Chinese police force accused of collecting intelligence on Chinese diaspora and harrassing dissidents.
The New York Times reported that on the third floor of the six-story office building was a Chinese outpost that the feds say was conducting police operations without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval from U.S. officials.
The raid by FBI counterintelligence agents was conducted in conjunction with the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn as part of the U.S. government’s crackdown on communist China’s notorious effort to surveil their citizens and hunt down dissidents overseas and force them to return back to China.
The global effort by China, which is present in numerous countries around the world, is known as “Operation Fox Hunt.”
China, which is known for making blatantly false statements, attempted to downplay what these police centers do and suggested that it was just some volunteers who helped people obtain things like a driver’s license.
The Times reviewed numerous reports from inside China that showed that Chinese officials bragged about the effectiveness of the “overseas police service centers,” which collect intelligence for the Chinese government. Many of the reports were subsequently deleted from China’s internet.
“It’s extremely worrying from the human rights perspective. We’re essentially allowing the Chinese diaspora to be controlled by [communist China] rather than subject to our national laws,” said Igor Merheim-Eyre, an adviser to a Slovakian member of the European Parliament. “That obviously has a huge impact — not only for our relations with the Chinese diaspora across Europe, but also has huge implications for national sovereignty.”
One example of the Chinese taking efforts to hide their actions came in Europe when a Hungarian lawmaker said he visited a Chinese police center that was clearly marked as “Qingtian Police Overseas Service Station.” After the lawmaker talked about what he saw, the signs instantly vanished.
“The Chinese government wants to have more influence and to extend their transnational policing,” said Chen Yen-ting, a Taiwan-based researcher. “It’s a long-arm power to show their own citizens inside China that their government is so strong. We have the power to reach globally, and even if you go out, you’re still under our control.”
A Chinese dissident in Europe told The Times that he was “extremely anxious” about what China was doing with their secret police offices because “there’s nothing we can do about it.”