OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A covert police station located in New York City that was being run by the Chinese government has closed after the FBI raided the location in recent months, a report noted on Friday.
The Epoch Times quoted a U.S. State Department official as having confirmed the operation and the station’s closure.
“The FBI has confirmed that the ‘overseas police station’ in New York linked to Fuzhou has closed,” a State Dept. official confirmed in an email. “We continue to be concerned about PRC [People’s Republic of China] transnational repression efforts around the world and are also coordinating with allies and partners on this issue.”
The Epoch Times added:
The closure of the facility in New York’s Chinatown comes just weeks after The New York Times reported that FBI agents raided and searched the building at an undisclosed time last fall. The facility and more than 100 others like it form a network of covert facilities from which experts believe that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is conducting a campaign of transnational repression.
According to two reports published in October 2022 and December 2022 by Safeguard Defenders, a nonprofit organization, the overseas police outposts are used to collect intelligence and even forcibly repatriate Chinese dissidents to the mainland to be imprisoned.
“We are aware of reports regarding alleged PRC ‘overseas police stations,’” the State Department spokesperson said. “We take this issue very seriously. Establishing so-called overseas police stations without the invitation or approval of the country in which they are operating raises serious issues of respect for the sovereignty of that country.”
The Epoch Times explained, “Chinese authorities maintain that the facilities, which operate in 53 nations, assist Chinese immigrants in foreign nations with tasks that would normally be handled by a consulate, such as renewing driver’s licenses and visas. However, the stations have been linked to the CCP’s United Front Work Department, an agency that works to advance the regime’s interests abroad by spreading propaganda, conducting foreign influence operations, suppressing dissident movements, gathering intelligence, and facilitating the transfer of technology to communist China.”
News of the Chinese police stations come as Pentagon officials said this week that the Defense Department has been tracking a suspected spy balloon for days as it traversed the central United States after being spotted over Billings, Mont.
On Friday, the Pentagon responded after China insisted the balloon U.S. defense officials were tracking over Montana had drifted off course and could not be maneuvered.
“The balloon is maneuverable,” Ryder said to reporters. “It violated the law. We communicated that to China.”
He said that shooting down the balloon “was taken into consideration,” but “because we assessed that currently, it does not pose a psychical or military risk to people on the ground, for now, we are continuing to monitor and review options.”
Also Friday, a Chinese government official admitted that the balloon was theirs but claimed it was not meant to enter United States airspace, Fox News reported.
“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”
“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure,” the spokesperson said.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), one of the so-called “Gang of Eight” in the House and Senate who are privy to the highest levels of classified briefings, has called for one on the matter.
“China’s brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty is a destabilizing action that must be addressed, and President Biden cannot be silent,” he said on Twitter. “I am requesting a Gang of Eight briefings.”
Ryder announced the detection of the balloon on Thursday.
“The United States Government has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now. The U.S. government, to include NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information,” he said.