Two New Yorkers have been charged and arrested after they allegedly ran an illegal Manhattan Police Station for the Chinese Government.
According to the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the pair faces federal charges for operating an undeclared outpost within the Chinatown neighborhood and conspiring as agents of Beijing.
Officials added that the case was part of an effort by the Justice Department, which aims to clamp down on Chinese government efforts to harass dissidents in the US and suppress free speech.
NBC New York reported that a complaint had been filed in Washington by 34 members of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau and another one was filed against a group consisting of 10 individuals, including eight Chinese officials.
Three complaints shared a common theme: the suspects were allegedly working to intimidate, threaten and harass “wanted” Chinese citizens inside the US.
Last November, the bureau stated that it was aware China ran a de-facto police station in Manhattan outside of any proper procedures or authority. This was part of a worldwide network of such outposts.
The New York Times reported that FBI counterintelligence agents conducted a search of the offices of the outpost, which were located on the third-floor of a nondescript office building on East Broadway.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the US was deeply worried about the Chinese government setting unauthorised “police station” in American cities connected to Beijing’s influence operation.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington acknowledged the existence of volunteer run sites in the US but stated that they were not police stations or police service centres.
The embassy’s spokesman Liu Pengyu explained that they help overseas Chinese nationals renew their driving licenses online and to receive physical checks for this purpose.
“They aren’t police officers from China.” He added that the US should stop hyping this issue without any basis.
The raid was carried out following an investigation by Safeguard Defenders, a non-governmental organization that reported in September 2022 there were dozens such centres around the world carrying out police operations.
Washington and Beijing are increasingly at odds, especially over the island of Taiwan. China claims the island as its territory, but the Taiwanese Government rejects this claim.
The Chinese government conducted military drills last week to express its anger over the meeting between US Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan President Tsai ing-wen in California. It viewed it as an interference in their internal affairs.
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