On Monday, the FBI and DOJ announced that two New York residents had been arrested for their involvement in a secret Chinese government police station being run in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The Justice Department has labeled the CCP’s activity in NYC as a “significant national security matter.”
Last fall, FBI counterintelligence raided the secret Chinese police station in Manhattan which allegedly acted as a branch of the security bureau of the city of Fuzhou.
It was reported that these organizations, disguised as Chinese “support centers,” are part of the CCP’s “United Front” system and have been linked to Chinese-government kidnapping campaigns. The FBI director Christopher Wray said that the facility violates “sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law-enforcement-cooperation processes.”
In February, the unapproved CCP facility was shut down by the FBI.
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Now, New York residents Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, have been charged with conspiring to act as agents of China’s government.
Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, reported that China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) “has repeatedly and flagrantly violated our nation’s sovereignty, including by opening and operating a police station in the middle of New York City.”
“Two miles from our office, just across the Brooklyn Bridge, this nondescript office building in the heart of bustling Chinatown in Lower Manhattan has a dark secret,” said Peace. “Until several months ago, an entire floor of this building hosted an undeclared police station of the Chinese National Police.”
“Now, just imagine the NYPD opening an undeclared secret police station in Beijing. It would be unthinkable,” he added.
“Here’s what we know happened inside the secret police station in Lower Manhattan. At the very least, the station was providing some government services, like helping Chinese citizens renew their Chinese driver’s licenses,” continued Peace. “But to do even that, the law required individuals like the defendants who act as agents of a foreign government to give prior notice to the attorney general before setting up shop in New York City. That didn’t happen.”
“More troubling, though, is the fact that the secret police station appears to have had a more sinister use on at least one occasion. An official with the Chinese National Police directed one of the defendants – a U.S. citizen who worked at the secret police station – to help locate a pro-democracy activist of Chinses descent living in California. In other words, the Chinese national police appear to have been using the station to track a U.S. resident on U.S. soil.
“The two defendants whose arrests we’re announcing today destroyed evidence of their communications with the Chinese national police when they learned of the FBI’s investigation. these two defendants knew they had something to hide, and they obstructed justice in an attempt to prevent the FBI from learning the full extent of what they were up to.”
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the DOJ’s National Security Division spoke about the PRC’s secret presence in New York and how it violates the boundaries of acceptable nation-state conduct.
“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,” said Olsen. “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.”
On Monday, Peace also announced charges against 34 MPS police officers who are part of a task force called the “912 Special Project Working Group.” These officers are accused of conspiracy to transmit interstate threats and conspiracy to commit interstate harassment.
“This task force isn’t a normal police force,” explained Peace. “It doesn’t protect people or combat crimes. It commits crimes targeting Chinese democracy activists and dissidents located outside of the People’s Republic of China, including right here in New York City.”
“This task force operates as an internet troll farm, creating thousands of fake online personas, which they use in a coordinated plot to harass dispatch, reach and threaten dissidents and activists throughout the world,” Peace continued. “People who the PRC perceives as threats to the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party.”