‘Stop Bullying’: China Demands U.S. Free Alleged Chiefs of Illegal NYC Police Station

A six story glass facade building, second from left, is believed to be the site of a foreign police outpost for China in New York's Chinatown, Monday April 17, 2023. Justice Department officials say two men have been arrested on charges that they helped establish a secret police outpost in …
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) issued a formal complaint on Wednesday against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over the arrests in April of two individuals accused of running an illegal Chinese police station to repress dissidents in New York City.

The complaint, as described by an MPS spokesperson, accused American law enforcement officials of “bullying” the individuals involved, fabricating evidence against them, and generating indictments “out of thin air.” It did not explicitly demand the liberation of the two imprisoned men, identified as “Harry” Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping, but did command Washington to immediately cease any law enforcement activity against Chinese agents.

The DOJ, alongside New York prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, announced in mid-April the arrests of Lu and Chen in addition to charges levied against about 40 people believed to be in China and Indonesia for “transnational repression” activities. Lu and Chen, officials said, had set up an illegal police station in Manhattan used to persecute anti-communist political dissidents in the greater New York area. Among its alleged activities, the police station deployed agents to threaten individuals in New York’s large Chinese American community to cease criticism of the Communist Party and infiltrated technology to sabotage virtual events that countered Beijing’s agenda, including a memorial event for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, accused the suspects of “repeatedly and flagrantly violat[ing] our nation’s sovereignty by opening and operating a police station in the middle of New York City.”

The Chinese government has not denied the existence of the police station and dozens like it around the world but insists that they are “service stations” established at the height of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic to provide innocuous bureaucratic aid to Chinese citizens abroad, such as renewals of passports and driver’s licenses.

“There are simply no so-called ‘overseas police stations,’” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin insisted following the arrests in April.

The state-run Global Times newspaper reported on Wednesday that the MPS had taken China’s complaints a step further and formally “lodged a stern representation” with the U.S. government. The MPS claimed that Washington had “maliciously concocted a so-called narrative of transnational repression, pieced together fabricated evidence and blatantly prosecuted 40 Chinese law enforcement officers and other government officials.”

“The US law enforcement agencies claim themselves just, independent and non-political,” the MPS spokesperson reportedly said. “However, based on presumption of guilt, the US side fabricated groundless charges and made three indictments consecutively, which severely undermines the legitimate interests of Chinese citizens.”

The spokesperson described the prosecutorial actions as “judicial bullying” and demanded they “immediately stop,” presumably meaning the liberation of the accused and dropping of all charges, though the Global Times did not specify how the Chinese government defined what actions it wished America to take.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry addressed the MPS statement on Thursday, largely echoing its language. Spokeswoman Mao Ning confirmed that those indicted were “Chinese law enforcement officers,” presumably adding to evidence that they were engaging in illicit police action in the United States.

“Recently, the US has maliciously concocted the so-called ‘transnational repression’ narrative, pieced together fabricated evidence and prosecuted Chinese law enforcement officers and other government officials,” Mao told reporters during her regular briefing. “Such flagrant political manipulation is aimed at spreading the ‘China threat’ narrative. China firmly rejects this and has lodged stern representation and strong objection with the US side through diplomatic and law enforcement channels.”

“What the US has done is contrary to the basic facts, professional ethics and the rule of law,” Mao concluded. “It is essentially politicizing and weaponizing legal instruments. We demand an immediate stop of such erroneous acts. If the US refuses to change course and goes down that wrong path, we will take resolute countermeasures.”

Mao did not elaborate on what actions would constitute a “stop” to the law enforcement actions. Nor did she elaborate on what “resolute countermeasures” China could take.

China is currently imprisoning at least three American citizens: Kai Li, Mark Swidan, and David Lin. Li, a businessman, is facing “espionage” allegations that he and his family vehemently deny. Swidan, arrested during a business trip to China, is facing execution on alleged drug charges. Lin, a pastor, has been imprisoned in China for 17 years on charges of “illegal” religious activity.

The existence of illegal Chinese police stations used to repress pro-democracy voices abroad surfaced initially in an extensive report by the NGO Safeguard Defenders published in September, which identified multiple major cities – including New York, Madrid, Dublin, and Sao Paulo, Brazil – as unwitting hosts of these stations. The DOJ action in New York is the first such legal action against illicit “law enforcement” activity by the Chinese MPS in the world.

Safeguard Defenders confirmed to the New York Post following the indictments this month that it has evidence that the Chinese Communist Party was operating at least one other such police station in New York and similar outposts in Nebraska, Minnesota, Texas, and California.

In November, FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed during a Senate hearing that his agency was aware of the illegal police stations.


FBI Director Christopher Wray is sworn in to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 (J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

“We’ve had now a number of indictments as you may have seen of the Chinese engaging in uncoordinated law enforcement actions right here in the United States, harassing, stalking, surveilling, blackmailing people who they just don’t like or disagree with the [Chinese President Xi Jinping] regime,” Wray said at the time. “And so it’s a real problem. 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.”

Congressmen Tom Tiffany (R-WI) and Lance Gooden (R-TX) introduced legislation this week to shut down the Chinese consulate in New York City and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office there in response to the arrests.

RELATED — Dem Rep. Moulton: We Knew About Chinese Police Stations “for a While,” and It Shouldn’t Take This Long to Act; There Are More of Them


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