While testifying to lawmakers on the U.S Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Congress on Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the United States is “deeply concerned” about Chinese unauthorized police stations operating in U.S. cities and exerting influence. “We are aware of the existence of these stations… It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes… I had to be careful about discussing our specific investigative work, but to me it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination.” He noted several recent indictments and said, “The reason this is so important is because we have seen a clear pattern of the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, exporting their repression right here into the U.S.” Wray said the United States had made a number of indictments involving the Chinese government harassing, stalking, surveilling, and blackmailing people in the United States who disagreed with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
On October 24th of this year, seven PRC (People’s Republic of China) nationals, including two PRC intelligence officers as well as six others, were arrested in three separate cases for alleged participation in malign schemes in the United States on behalf of the government of China. “These indictments of PRC intelligence officers and government officials – for trying to obstruct a U.S. trial of a Chinese company, masquerading as university professors to steal sensitive information, and trying to strong-arm a victim into returning to China – again expose the PRC’s outrageous behavior within our own borders,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray at the time in October. “The FBI, working with our partners and allies, will continue to throw the full weight of our counterintelligence and law enforcement authorities into stopping the Chinese government’s crimes against our businesses, universities, and Chinese-American communities.”
“It’s something that we’re talking with our foreign partners about as well, because we’re not the only country where this has occurred,” Wray continued during the hearing today. Several other nations have noted concern with Chinese police operations without authorization such as Australia and the Netherlands. “From an FBI director’s perspective, I’m deeply concerned about this and I’m not going to let it lie… They’ve planted bugs inside American’s cars… One of the things that we’re seeing more and more is them hiring private investigators here… to essentially be their agents if you will, to conduct some of this work.”
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Greg Murphy and Mike Waltz, had sent letters to the Justice Department in October asking if President Biden’s administration was investigating such stations and arguing they could be used to intimidate U.S. residents of Chinese origin. Wray, asked by Republican Senator Rick Scott if such stations violated U.S. law, said the FBI was “looking into the legal parameters.”
Operation Fox Hunt is a Chinese global operation that is ostensibly intended to root out corruption under President Xi Jinping’s administration and claims to have resulted in the arrest of more than 40 of its top 100 most wanted people worldwide. Fox Hunt has also allegedly repatriated a large number of criminals to China. Since 2015, during the Obama administration, the U.S. has protested the use of undercover agents. Wray claimed in 2020 that the purpose of Fox Hunt is political repression rather than anti-corruption, and that targets are given the choice of returning to China or committing suicide. He also claimed family members and friends back home were leveraged for psychological pressure with threats of arrest. Over the years, U.S. federal grand juries have indicted a number of individuals for such actions, at least 23 since 2020.
Overseas 110 is the official Chinese categorization of “extralegal offices” established by China’s Ministry of Public Security in other nations, to supposedly only provide Chinese nationals with bureaucratic assistance such as document renewals and to fight transnational crime like online fraud. A self-claimed human rights group, Safeguard Defenders, which holds close ties with the far-right publication Epoch Times and the controversial Chinese religious group Falun Gong, alleges that these offices are being used for intimidation and coercion against dissidents and criminal suspects to make them return to China. The report said the stations were an extension of Beijing’s efforts to pressure some Chinese nationals or their relatives abroad to return to China to face criminal charges. It also linked them to activities of China’s United Front Work Department, a Communist Party body charged with spreading its influence and propaganda overseas. They allege that Chinese police run at least 54 of these stations in at least 39 foreign nations, and that between April 2021 and July 2022 they threatened and harassed 230,000 Chinese nationals to return to China to face potential criminal charges. Allegedly this also included people living in any of the nine “forbidden” countries for Chinese nationals, which include Cambodia, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Turkey, and Indonesia, with the group claiming some 54,000 people were “persuaded” to return from Myanmar between January and September 2021 alone. Safeguard Defenders also alleged Chinese police stations existed in New York.
China’s embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Earlier this month, its foreign ministry denied it had such stations in the Netherlands after a probe by Dutch authorities.