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Two Arrested for Operating Illegal Overseas Police Station of Chinese Government

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The U.S. Department of Justice and FBI announced on Monday it has evidence of expanding espionage and security activity by the Chinese government on American soil.

The DOJ announced said in a press release that it had three cases suggesting more brazen activity by China inside the U.S. after several Chinese spy balloons were discovered and flew over the United States earlier this year.

Ten Chinese officials have been charged with conspiracy along with an employee of a telecommunications company. One of the more concerning cases involves Chinese security officials allegedly spying on Zoom calls and then harassing Chinese dissident participants identified as targets.

“A complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging two defendants in connection with opening and operating an illegal overseas police station, located in lower Manhattan, New York, for a provincial branch of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). “Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan, were arrested earlier this morning at their homes in New York City. Their initial appearances are scheduled this afternoon in Brooklyn before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes Jr,” the DOJ announced in a press release.

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“As alleged in the complaint, Lu and Chen are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the PRC government as well as obstructing justice by destroying evidence of their communications with an MPS official. The defendants worked together to establish the first overseas police station in the United States on behalf of the Fuzhou branch of the MPS. The police station – which closed in the fall of 2022 after those operating it became aware of the FBI’s investigation – occupied a floor in an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown. While acting under the direction and control of an MPS Official, Lu and Chen helped open and operate the clandestine police station. None of the participants in the scheme informed the U.S. government that they were helping the PRC government surreptitiously open and operate an illegal MPS police station on U.S. soil,” the press release added.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement: “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. 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.”

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York said: “This prosecution reveals the Chinese government’s flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty by establishing a secret police station in the middle of New York City. As alleged, the defendants and their co-conspirators were tasked with doing the PRC’s bidding, including helping locate a Chinese dissident living in the United States, and obstructed our investigation by deleting their communications. Such a police station has no place here in New York City – or any American community.”

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“It is simply outrageous that China’s Ministry of Public Security thinks it can get away with establishing a secret, illegal police station on U.S. soil to aid its efforts to export repression and subvert our rule of law,” said Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division.

Ronnow added: “This case serves as a powerful reminder that the People’s Republic of China will stop at nothing to bend people to their will and silence messages they don’t want anyone to hear. The FBI is dedicated to protecting everyone in the United States against efforts to undermine our democratic freedoms, and we’ll hold any state actors – and those who help them – accountable for breaking our laws.”

“In October 2022, the FBI conducted a judicially authorized search of the illegal police station. In connection with the search, FBI agents interviewed both Lu and Chen and seized their phones. In reviewing the contents of these phones, FBI agents observed that communications between Lu and Chen, on the one hand, and the MPS Official, on the other, appeared to have been deleted. In subsequent consensual interviews, Lu and Chen admitted to the FBI that they had deleted their communications with the MPS Official after learning about the ongoing FBI investigation, thus preventing the FBI from learning the full extent of the MPS’s directions for the overseas police station,” the DOJ said.

It added: “If convicted of conspiring to act as agents of the PRC, the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The obstruction of justice charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”

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