2 Arrested For Operating A Secret Chinese Police Station In N.Y., DOJ Has More Names

Two people have been arrested in Manhattan’s Chinatown for allegedly running a Chinese “secret police station.” Authorities said Monday that two men were arrested for assisting the Chinese government in establishing a secret remote police station in New York City. Three dozen Chinese national police officers have been charged with harassing dissidents inside the United States using social media.

China claims that its worldwide “service centers” assist Chinese citizens with paperwork concerns and are managed by volunteers. In contrast, the United States and other governments claim they are illegal police outposts.

Liu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, both from New York City, are accused of plotting to serve as China’s agents and obstructing justice. On Monday, they appeared in federal court in Brooklyn. If convicted, they can face up to 20 years behind bars. China has previously denied running the stations, referring to them as “service centers” for Chinese residents living abroad.

Per the U.S. Department of Justice, Jianwang and Jinping collaborated to build China’s first foreign police station in the United States. When individuals involved learned of an FBI investigation into the station in the fall of 2022, the outpost was shuttered.

By establishing a secret police station in New York City, the Chinese government violated the nation’s sovereignty, Brooklyn District Attorney Breon Pearce stated.

The indictments are part of a recent wave of Justice Department prosecutions that undermine Chinese government efforts to find and silence pro-democracy activists and others publicly critical of Beijing’s policies in the United States.

One of the three cases disclosed Monday involves a local Chinese Ministry of Public Security unit that operated out of an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown before shutting down last autumn under an FBI probe.

According to the Justice Department, the two individuals detained were functioning under the direction and control of a Chinese government official. They erased correspondence with that official from their phones after learning of the FBI’s investigation in an apparent attempt to hinder the investigation. Michael Driscoll, the chief of the FBI field office in New York,  stated this is a blatant violation of our national sovereignty.

Though China is thought to have secret police stations worldwide, Justice Department officials claimed these arrests were the first of its kind.

“Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, from the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, from Manhattan, were arrested at their homes on Monday.

According to U.S. criminal enforcement sources, neither Defendant registered with the Justice Department as an agent of a foreign country. Though the secret police station provided some basic services, which included assisting Chinese citizens in renewing their driver’s licenses, the station also served a more “sinister” purpose, which allegedly assisted the Chinese government in locating a pro-democracy activist of Chinese descent living in California.

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, the senior federal prosecutor in Brooklyn whose office filed the prosecutions, said they don’t need or want a secret police station in Manhattan. 

In recent years, Justice Department officials have prioritized charges of “transnational repression,” in which foreign governments try to locate, threaten, and suppress dissidents in the United States. In 2020, the Justice Department charged more than a half-dozen persons with acting on behalf of the Chinese government in a pressure campaign to convince a New Jersey citizen wanted by Beijing to return to China to face prosecution. In January, the Justice Department indicted three individuals in an alleged plan to assassinate an Iranian-American novelist and activist who has spoken out against human rights violations in Iran.

National security division’s senior officer David Newman said that in America, the law protects everyone from persecution, violence, and threats of violence equally.

As authoritarian governments become increasingly brazen in trampling the rights and liberties of democracy – such as the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Iran, and others – the Department of Justice will redouble its efforts to defend democracy, democratic institutions, and sovereignty.

The Justice Department also announced on Monday that 34 Ministry of Public Security employees had established thousands of fake Twitter accounts and used them to harass dissidents. Prosecutors claim the defendants, who were all members of a specialized task force based in Beijing, used social media in an attempt to spread Chinese government propaganda on topics such as racial justice protests in the United States, the war in Ukraine, and human rights issues in Hong Kong. All the defendants are still at large and thought to be in China.

In addition, prosecutors stated on Monday that eight Chinese government officials who are thought to be living in China had been accused of ordering a U.S. telecommunications business employee to remove Chinese dissidents off the company’s platform.

Former Zoom executive Jin Xinjiang, or Julien Jin, was one of ten people indicted in an updated lawsuit. He was originally prosecuted in December 2020 after officials claimed he attempted to disrupt a series of Zoom sessions commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in May and June of that year.

According to officials, Jin functioned as Zoom’s key interface with Chinese government law enforcement and intelligence agencies at the time, often responding to Chinese government demands to cancel meetings and prohibit users on Zoom’s video communications network.

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