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China abroad

U.S. arrests 2 men for allegedly operating Chinese police outpost in Manhattan to harass dissidents

Federal officials said Monday they arrested two men in New York City for allegedly operating a Chinese secret police substation in Manhattan to monitor and harass Chinese dissidents. The two men, "Harry" Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, were detained Monday morning and charged with conspiring to act as unregistered agents of the Chinese government and obstruction of justice tied to the deletion of text messages with their Chinese government handler. 

"Today's charges are a crystal clear response to the [People's Republic of China] that we are onto you, we know what you're doing, and we will stop it from happening in the United States of America," Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said at a news conference Monday afternoon. "We don't need or want a secret police station in our great city."

The clandestine police outpost in Manhattan reported to the Fuzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, a branch of China's Ministry of Public Security, prosecutors said. It is one of more than 100 unauthorized Chinese police stations around the world set up to harass and intimidate Chinese nationals living abroad, according to federal officials and an October  2022 report by the human rights group Safeguard Defenders. Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands have told China to shut down such operations in their counties, but Peace said this is the first time any country has brought criminal charges in connection to the covert police stations. 

The arrests of Lu and Chen, both U.S. citizens, was one of three separate cases unveiled Monday involving alleged Chinese operations in the U.S. aimed at quashing criticism of Beijing or spreading propaganda. In one case, 34 officers of China's Ministry of Public Security stand accused of operating a sophisticated "troll farm" of fake online accounts to attack Chinese dissidents, sow social division, and spread disinformation in the U.S. The other case charges 10 Chinese officials, including a former Zoom employee, of using Zoom to remove dissidents from the platform or disrupt online events. Those dozens of officials are in China and unlikely to face U.S. arrest.