Chinatown, ManhattanInternationalIndiaAfricaMultiple countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have accused China of running foreign police stations in their countries, a claim China has vehemently denied.In a complaint unsealed on Monday, the Department of Justice announced it had arrested and charged two men with conspiracy to act as foreign agents and obstructing justice for their alleged role in running a secret police station in Manhattan on behalf of the Chinese government.“Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, both US citizens, were arrested on Monday and released on bail. The Justice Department alleges the pair set up a secret overseas police station in an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown with the intention to intimidate and harass Chinese dissidents living in New York.
“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 Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen, of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “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.”
The complaint says the office shut down after an FBI raid on the building last fall alerted the members of the group of the FBI investigation. Previously, China described the outposts as volunteer-run organizations designed to help Chinese nationals living abroad with bureaucratic tasks, such as renewing their Chinese driver’s licenses.However, the DOJ claims the two men set up the office at the direction of the Fuzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and was directed by that organization.It also claims Lu had a longstanding relationship with the ministry that stretched back to at least 2015, when he attended a counter-protest supporting Chinese President Xi Jinping. The complaint alleges he received a plaque from the ministry for that work.Then in 2018, he was allegedly enlisted by the ministry to harass a Chinese fugitive, including with threats of violence, encouraging him to return to China. Finally, the complaint also alleges that in 2022, Lu helped the Chinese government locate a Chinese national and pro-democracy advocate who was living in China. The complaint notes Lu denied those conversations happened.Lu also maintains a residence in China, according to US media reports.Last year, Safeguard Defenders, an NGO previously known as “China Action” and funded by the National Endowment of Democracy, itself funded by the US government, claimed its investigations revealed over 100 secret police stations around the world, including in the UK, Canada and the US.In a related case, the DOJ also charged 40 national police officers in “transnational repression schemes targeting US residents,” accusing them of creating fake social media accounts to spread disinformation and pressuring a Zoom employee to remove dissidents from the platform. No arrests have been made in that case and the defendants are thought to live in China.The People’s Republic of China has not responded publicly to either case at press time.