Activists say China may be operating up to six more police outposts in the US
On Monday, the FBI shut down a secret police station in Manhattan
By KEITH GRIFFITH FOR DAILYMAIL.COM and REUTERS
After the FBI arrested two men in connection with a Chinese 'secret police station' in New York, activists say there may be as many as six other similar illegal outposts across the US.
In addition to the Manhattan outpost that was shut down on Monday, Chinese police operate another station elsewhere in New York City, and one in Los Angeles, according to a New York Post report citing the advocacy group Safeguard Defenders.
As well, the Madrid-based group has identified so-called 'Overseas Chinese Service Centers' that purportedly provide community services in San Francisco, Houston, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
While it is unclear whether those outposts are being used as clandestine police stations, Safeguard Defenders noted that Chinese security forces often use non-profits and community groups as a front to spy on and harass dissidents overseas.
China's foreign ministry has disputed the existence of such police stations, but has acknowledged what it says are volunteer-run sites in the US and other countries to assist overseas Chinese nationals with tasks such as renewing drivers licenses.
Advocacy group Safeguard Defenders says China operates police outposts in New York and Los Angeles, as well as four other cities with so-called 'Overseas Chinese Service Centers'
A secret police station above this ramen store in Manhattan's Chinatown was shut down by the FBI. Two men were arrested in connection with the scheme
On Monday, Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan, were both arrested at their addresses in New York.
Prosecutors say the two men set up the office in Manhattan's Chinatown last year at the behest of the Fuzhou branch of the Ministry of Public Security, China's national police force.
They are both US citizens, and have been charged with conspiring to act as agents for the Chinese government.
Federal prosecutors said the arrests were part of a crackdown on China's targeting of dissidents, which Beijing denies.
'We will not tolerate the PRC (People's Republic of China) government or any foreign government harassing or threatening U.S. persons,' White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a regular press briefing.
China slammed the arrests as 'political manipulation' and part of a false and biased smear campaign.
'China firmly opposes the US side's slandering, smearing, engaging in political manipulation, and maliciously concocting the so-called transnational repression narrative,' foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.
'We urge the US to immediately reflect on itself, abandon Cold War thinking and ideological biases, immediately stop related erroneous practices, stop political manipulation, and stop smear attacks against China,' he added.
US and Western authorities have warned that China's government has increasingly exerted pressure to silence its critics abroad, often targeting people of Chinese origin through covert operations in attempts to stifle dissent, or coerce them to return to China where they might face punishment.
Human rights groups have also complained of threats to academic freedom and monitoring of Chinese students on international university campuses.
Lu Jianwang, 61, (third left) and Chen Jinping, 59, (second left) were both arrested on Monday morning at their addresses in New York
Rick Waters, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China and Taiwan, told a US House of Representatives hearing separately that Washington was aware of China's transnational law enforcement within the borders of 'dozens of countries.'
Waters said the US was working through public diplomacy and 'private diplomatic channels' with partners who had found the same issue in their countries.
'We have been engaged in a pretty extensive effort to share what we know and to develop the tools and response options that are most effective to this unique aspect of China's influence agenda,' Waters said.
Safeguard Defenders, a Europe-based human rights organization, published a report in September revealing the presence of dozens of Chinese police 'service stations' in major cities around the world, including New York.