House China Committee demands answers from FBI on Chinese police stations in US

The new House committee on China sent a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding answers about the bureau’s efforts to combat the threat of China’s “transnational repression” and alleged secret Chinese police stations operating inside the U.S. The letter came just over a week after the FBI and federal prosecutors announced the arrests of two New Yorkers who allegedly ran an undisclosed Chinese government police station in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood. Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping were charged with conspiring to act as agents of China’s government. Following the arrests, lawmakers on the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, led by chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., requested “additional information regarding the FBI’s efforts to address the very significant threat that transnational repression poses to the American people.” The letter described how committee members previously wrote the FBI in February, expressing concern that the bureau was unaware of the “illegal operation” of Chinese law enforcement in the U.S. until the information was made public through open-source reporting.  2 NY RESIDENTS ALLEGEDLY RAN SECRET CHINESE POLICE STATION: ‘SIGNIFICANT NATIONAL SECURITY MATTER’ In September, the human rights organization Safeguard Defenders identified several dozen secret Chinese police stations used to police Chinese citizens overseas as part of a crackdown on criticism of the ruling Communist Party. “Only after this report and after concerns were raised by members of Congress did it appear the FBI took action,” the letter stated.  It described the police stations as part of the Chinese government’s “broader efforts to undermine American national security and extend its techno-totalitarian reach beyond [its] borders.” Gallagher and his colleagues listed several specific questions in their initial February letter for the FBI to answer in a classified briefing. The lawmakers noted the FBI held a briefing with them March 30, but they were “disappointed” because bureau officials “provided only vague information — virtually all of which could be found in public reporting — that did not address” their questions or the FBI’s efforts to counter the threat of Chinese transnational repression. WHAT ARE CHINA’S OVERSEAS POLICE STATIONS? “For that reason, we seek additional information on this timely and important matter,” the lawmakers wrote, asking for answers to their original seven questions from February. They also posed five new questions regarding what steps the FBI is taking to stop China’s alleged illegal law enforcement activities beyond its borders — including on U.S. soil. Gallagher and his colleagues asked for answers no later than May 10 and for another classified briefing no later than May 31. “The threat of [China’s] transnational repression schemes that target U.S. citizens — primarily Chinese Americans — undermines the foundational American principles of freedom and liberty,” they wrote. “United States law enforcement agencies must hold these perpetrators to account and better protect the U.S. from future threats.” VIDEO SHOWS SUSPECT ACCUSED OF OPERATING SECRET CHINESE POLICE STATIONS MINGLING WITH SCHUMER, ADAMS The lawmakers added that their committee has broad authority to “investigate and submit policy recommendations on the status of the Chinese Communist Party’s economic, technological, and security progress and its competition with the United States” under House Resolution 11. Alleged Chinese police stations operating covertly inside the U.S. have become a key focus of lawmakers in light of the New York arrests last week. According to federal prosecutors, China’s Ministry of Public Security “has repeatedly and flagrantly violated our nation’s sovereignty, including by opening and operating a police station in the middle of New York City.” In its press release announcing the arrests, the Justice Department noted the FBI didn’t search the alleged police station until October, one month after the Safeguard Defenders report. That timing raises “concerns that the FBI was unaware of the illegal operation prior to the public reporting,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter Wednesday. “We seek to understand how the FBI is proactively monitoring [China’s] transnational repression operations.” The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
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