The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wants the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to provide more information on suspected Chinese government police stations and other malign activities by Beijing in the United States.
Committee Chairman Mark E. Green, Tennessee Republican, and Texas GOP Rep. August Pfluger, who chairs the panel’s subcommittee on counterterrorism, law enforcement and intelligence, stated in a letter sent Monday to top Biden administration officials that China is operating illegal police stations in cities other than New York. Federal authorities last week arrested two men on charges of operating an illegal police station above a noodle shop in New York’s Chinatown to monitor dissidents and Chinese-Americans.
Harry Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping, both from New York, were charged with conspiring to operate as agents of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and obstructing justice. The New York site was closed in the fall of 2022 after an FBI investigation.
U.S. prosecutors linked the station to the United Front Work Department, an arm of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. In addition to the two arrests, an additional 40 MPS officers were charged with transnational repression for targeting of U.S. residents regarded as opponents of the Chinese regime.
The dissidents targeted by the Chinese station faced stalking, intimidation and assault, prosecutors said.
Mr. Green and Mr. Pfluger in their letter said that similar Chinese outposts are operating in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and in cities in Nebraska and Minnesota.
“The presence of this police station not only violated U.S. sovereignty, but circumvented both judicial and law enforcement cooperating procedures,” Mr. Green and Mr. Pfluger said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “The committee is examining the persistent threats posed by the CCP to U.S. homeland security, in which the CCP continues to brazenly violate U.S. autonomy.”
The Homeland Security panel is the second House committee investigating Chinese police activities, joining the new House select committee on China.
In addition to the secret police stations, China dispatched an intelligence-gathering balloon over the United States and continues to operate government-controlled Confucius Institutes on U.S. universities that are engaged in “academic espionage,” the two lawmakers said.
“While the New York Chinese police station has been shut down, our work to mitigate [Chinese] threats to the homeland is far from over,” Mr. Green and Mr. Pfluger stated in seeking additional information from DHS and the FBI.
The lawmakers are seeking to know when the two agencies first learned about the Chinese police stations and when their investigations began. The FBI affidavit states that the two suspects in New York were interviewed in October 2022 and reveals that Mr. Chen deleted texts with an MPS officer from his phone.
Mr. Green and Mr. Pfluger also asked Mr. Mayorkas about the steps being taken by that department to counter Chinese police operations targeting U.S. residents. They also asked what DHS and the FBI are doing to combat Chinese influence operations elsewhere in the United States, requesting a response by May 8 and staff briefings by May 28.
The panel expects a response to the letter from the two agencies by May 8 and briefings by staff by May 28.
The FBI is charged with combating foreign influence operations that include covert action seeking to impact political sentiment or public discourse. The Bureau has operated Foreign Influence Task Force since 2017, which seeks to identify and counteract malign foreign influence operations.
The Chinese police operations were first disclosed in a September report by the Spain-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders.
• Bill Gertz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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