China Calls Its Illegal NYC Police Station a ‘Service Center,’ Accuses U.S. of Repressing Its Agents

The Chinese Communist Party responded with bombast on Tuesday to the news that New York prosecutors had arrested two people on charges of running an illegal “police station” in the city to persecute Chinese dissidents, claiming the arrests were “political manipulation” and denying the existence of the stations.

New York officials announced on Monday that an investigation into illicit law enforcement operations by Chinese government operatives in Manhattan had resulted in the arrests of two men, “Harry” Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping, allegedly tasked with running Chinese law enforcement operations in the United States. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace accused the suspects of having “repeatedly and flagrantly violat[ing] our nation’s sovereignty by opening and operating a police station in the middle of New York City.”

The Chinese government used the illegal police station, American law enforcement officials assert, to target, threaten, and silence people in the United States who vocally criticized the Chinese government, most prominently dissidents in the Chinese-American community.

The Chinese Communist Party’s establishment of illegal law enforcement units in cities abroad first surfaced in a report published in September by the non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders, which listed New York alongside a long list of other major Western cities in Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and other states, as hosting these illicit operations. At the time, Chinese government officials responded to the report by confirming the existence of the “police stations,” but claiming they were innocuous outposts for activities such as helping Chinese nationals renew their driver’s licenses.

The director of Safeguard Defenders, Peter Dahlin, noted on Monday that his organization had identified over 100 such Chinese police operations around the world.

Responding to the news during his regular press briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin insisted, “there are simply no so-called ‘overseas police stations,” though he had confirmed their existence in October.

“Due to [coronavirus], a large number of overseas Chinese nationals have been unable to return to China in time for services such as renewing their driving license. As a solution to these difficulties, relevant sub-national authorities have opened up an online licensing platform,” Wang said at the time.

Wang reiterated on Tuesday that the operations U.S. officials identified do exist, but referred to them as “overseas Chinese service centers.”

“The U.S. drew malignant association between overseas Chinese service centers and Chinese diplomatic and consular officials and made groundless accusations against China,” Wang told reporters. “This is clearly political manipulation. About the ‘overseas police stations,’ we have made it clear many times that the allegation has no factual basis.”

“There are simply no so-called ‘overseas police stations,’” Wang continued. “China adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, strictly observes international laws and respects the judicial sovereignty of all countries. We hope relevant parties will not hype up or dramatize this.”

Wang also accused American officials of “slander” and “transnational repression,” the term U.S. prosecutors used for China’s threats and intimidation of dissidents in New York.

“China firmly opposes the U.S.’s slanders and smears, its political manipulation, the false narrative of ‘transnational repression,’ and blatant prosecution of Chinese law enforcement and cyber administration officials,” Wang said. “The U.S. has long suppressed dissent through secret surveillance, illegal wiretapping, global manhunts and behind-the-scenes deals,” he added, without providing examples or evidence.

“The ‘transnational repression’ is an allegation that best matches the U.S.’s own practices,” Wang claimed.

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper, its most aggressive English-language publication, also weighed in on the charges on Tuesday, calling the Department of Justice (DOJ) accusations “nonsense.”

“Washington’s approach to handling ties with China is shambolic with no clear main thrust, said Chinese analysts,” according to the government propaganda outlet. “They criticized US decision-makers for their refusal to correct their mistakes and for failure to remove the obstacles they set for the dialogues, while continuing to castigate China for its attitude toward the US.”

The newspaper cited an anonymous Chinese government “expert” who confirmed the existence of the illegal police operations but downplayed them as “completely transparent” public service enterprises.

“The so-called secret police stations or police outposts mentioned by US authorities and some US media or institutions are not secret at all,” the unnamed Chinese “expert” said. “They are completely transparent and just providing very basic services to local people to help them apply for visas or renew their Chinese driving licenses, and have nothing to do with law-enforcement or intelligence gathering.”

The Times went on to disparage the victims of China’s transnational repression operations as “corrupted officials and criminal suspects” that Beijing had a genuine interest in threatening or detaining.

The Chinese government’s public-facing officials and media outlets have, at press time, only addressed the arrests of Lu and Chen. The DOJ revealed their detention in concert with a second law enforcement operation targeting dozens of suspected Chinese government agents abroad that stand accused of aiding operations to threaten and repress dissidents, as well as spread Chinese government propaganda online. The DOJ accused about 40 individuals, most believed to be in China and Indonesia, of working to create “thousands of fake online personas on social media sites, including Twitter, to target Chinese dissidents through online harassment and threats.”

“As alleged, the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government deploys its national police … as a troll farm,” U.S. Attorney Peace explained at a press conference on Monday, “that attacks persons in our country for exercising free speech in a manner that the PRC government finds disagreeable, and also spreads propaganda whose sole purpose is to sow divisions within the United States.”



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