The FBI is reported to have raided a building in New York’s Chinatown that is suspected of running a Chinese police force, accusing them of collecting intelligence that would then be given to the Chinese Communist Party in an effort to lock down on Chinese dissidents.
The FBI raid was done by an FBI counterintelligence agency with assistance from the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn. Raids of this nature are done in an effort to crack down on China’s efforts to surveil Chinese citizens abroad, often called “Operation Fox Hunt,” and are done to prevent communist China’s efforts to force dissidents who now live overseas to be forced to return to China.
As The New York Times reported, Chinese officials such as the ones accused to utilizing a building inside of NYC’s Chinatown often brag about the rate of effectiveness these rouge Chinese police forces have shown.
One of the most notorious cases of a rouge Chinese police force came in Europe, when a Hungarian lawmaker visited a police station marked “Qingtian Police Overseas Service Station,” which was marked clearly as a Chinese police station despite being in Hungary. Following the raid in NYC and the similar situation in Hungary, Igor Merheim-Eyre, an adviser to a Slovakian member of the European Parliament commented on these rouge Chinese police forces, saying:
“It’s extremely worrying from the human rights perspective. We’re essentially allowing the Chinese diaspora to be controlled by [communist China] rather than subject to our national laws,” adding, “That obviously has a huge impact — not only for our relations with the Chinese diaspora across Europe, but also has huge implications for national sovereignty.”
“The Chinese government wants to have more influence and to extend their transnational policing,” said Chen Yen-ting, a Taiwan-based researcher. “It’s a long-arm power to show their own citizens inside China that their government is so strong. We have the power to reach globally, and even if you go out, you’re still under our control.”
These rogue Chinese Communist Party police stations can often go under the radar before they are eventually discovered, and in the case of the raid in NYC, the unmarked police station was utilizing office space on the third and sixth story of an office building in Chinatown, making it essentially impossible to notice from the outside. These police stations, of course, work without any diplomatic approval from the United States.