Two men were arrested on Monday and charged with conspiring to act as agents of the Chinese government after it was revealed that they operated a secret police outpost in Manhattan’s Chinatown on behalf of the People’s Republic of China.
The charges, which represent the first time criminal charges have been brought in connection with such a police outpost, were announced by federal officials.
Intimidation and Suppression
The men are accused of using the police outpost to intimidate Chinese dissidents living in the United States. Furthermore, charges were unveiled in two related cases: one against 34 Chinese police officers accused of harassing Chinese nationals in the New York area, and another against eight Chinese officials accused of directing an employee of a U.S.-based tech company to remove dissidents from their platform.
A Global Effort to Suppress Criticism
David Newman, the Justice Department’s top national security official in Washington, stated that the People’s Republic of China has engaged in a multifront campaign to extend its authoritarian system’s reach into the United States and around the world. Breon S. Peace, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, emphasized that the U.S. will not tolerate such secret police stations.
Investigation and Arrests
The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn investigated the outpost, which conducted police operations without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval. The suspects, Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, were arrested at their homes in New York City on Monday morning.
The two men were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiring to act as agents of the People’s Republic of China without registering with the Justice Department, as required by law.
Undisclosed Operations and Global Concerns
Court papers reveal that the Manhattan police outpost, managed by Chinese security officials, is one of over 100 such operations worldwide, causing unease among diplomats and intelligence officials.
Authorities in Ireland, Canada, and the Netherlands have called for the closure of similar operations in their countries. The FBI raid in New York marks the first known instance of materials being seized from such an outpost.
Hidden in Plain Sight
The secret police station was located on the third floor of a nondescript building at 107 East Broadway in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Lu Jianwang, also known as Harry Lu, and Chen Jinping, both U.S. citizens, allegedly ran the outpost from this location.
In 2018 IRS filings, Lu was listed as the president of a nonprofit organization called the America Changle Association NY, which housed the police outpost. The association, formed in 2013, claims to serve as a social gathering place for individuals from the Chinese city of Fuzhou.
Charges and Legal Proceedings
Both Lu and Chen face charges of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying text messages between themselves and their handler at China’s Ministry of Public Security, the nation’s intelligence, security, and secret police organization. The destruction of the text messages reportedly occurred in October 2022, around the time of the FBI search.
As the legal proceedings unfold, this case sheds light on the Chinese government’s far-reaching efforts to maintain control over its diaspora and suppress criticism of its regime, even beyond its borders.
As the investigation progresses, more details about the secret police outpost and its activities are expected to emerge. This case has raised concerns among the international community about the extent of China’s covert operations to influence and control its citizens living abroad.
The United States and other nations have expressed a strong commitment to protecting the rights and freedoms of their residents, regardless of their country of origin. This case could potentially lead to increased scrutiny of Chinese government activities within other countries, as well as further diplomatic tensions.