China continues to demonstrate its brazen disregard for diplomatic norms as the country works to silence the voice of dissent of Chinese exiles in the United States and beyond. The latest iteration involves the PRC’s creation of an overseas police station which were covertly created and maintained in the lower Manhattan area of New York City by China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS). On April 17, two individuals of Chinese ethnicity were arrested, “Harry” Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping, were charged with conspiring to act as agents of the PRC and obstruction of justice.

Purpose of the Chinese overseas police stations?

Police stations such as the one for which Lu and Chen were charged with opening and maintaining are part of a global effort by the regime of PRC President Xi Jinping to control the Chinese diaspora, most especially those who may which to voice support for democratic ideals or disagree with the policies of the Chinese Communist Party. The overseas police stations first began appearing in 2016.

Readers may recall the case of the New York City  police officer who was arrested for assisting the Chinese government in a similar manner. That arrest predates the creation of the illegal police station in New York City, yet causes one to pause for a moment given the chronology of events in the creation of the “overseas police station” model within China. In addition, another Chinese operation in the United States with a similar purpose was uncovered in 2021, that is China’s “Operation Fox Hunt.”

DOJ/FBI outrage

“It is simply outrageous that China’s Ministry of Public Security thinks it can get away with establishing a secret, illegal police station on U.S. soil to aid its efforts to export repression and subvert our rule of law,” said Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division. “This case serves as a powerful reminder that the People’s Republic of China will stop at nothing to bend people to their will and silence messages, they don’t want anyone to hear. The FBI is dedicated to protecting everyone in the United States against efforts to undermine our democratic freedoms, and we’ll hold any state actors – and those who help them – accountable for breaking our laws.”

Where are they located?

In September 2022, Safeguard Defenders issued an initial report  and updated it in December 2022 in which they detailed the existence of over 100 PRC overseas police stations controlled by various regional entities of the MPS. These police stations have turned up in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Not all are illegal, for example, the police station set up in Milan, Italy was covered by a bilateral agreement between Italy and China. The police station in New York City was not, the two arrested individuals did not register with the Department of Justice as required by the “Foreign Agents Registration Act” (FARA).

Who controls the Chinese police stations?

The report indicates that in addition to the illegal police station in New York City controlled by the Fuzhou MPS which opened in early-2022 and closed in late-2022, there may be two additional police stations controlled by the Wenzhou MPS in the United States (Los Angeles and New York.) Two additional regional entities, Nantong and Qingtian MPS are also engaged in opening and maintain overseas police stations around the world.

Tip of the iceberg

The arrests of Lu and Chen, according to the DOJ, were the first instance in the world involving the prosecution of individuals associated with the overseas police stations. In addition to the arrests, the DOJ also announced the charging of 44 additional individuals, 40 associated with the MPS, two associated with the Cyberspace Administration of China and two additional individuals, including Julien Jin who worked for Zoom and was instrumental in the manipulation of the virtual meeting platform as part of the overall effort to silence dissent.  efforts to harass individuals living in the United States.

“China’s Ministry of Public Security used operatives to target people of Chinese descent who had the courage to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party – in one case by covertly spreading propaganda to undermine confidence in our democratic processes and, in another, by suppressing U.S. video conferencing users’ free speech,” said Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division. “We aren’t going to tolerate CCP repression – its efforts to threaten, harass, and intimidate people – here in the United States. The FBI will continue to confront the Chinese government’s efforts to violate our laws and repress the rights and freedoms of people in our country.”

While these arrests and indictments shine the light on China’s outrageous activities, it is highly improbable that the efforts by the CCP and the Xi administration to silence dissent will cease.

Related News

Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) is an author and speaker on the topic of security strategy. Christopher, served 30+ years within the Central Intelligence Agency. He lived and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America. Upon his retirement, the CIA awarded him the Career Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the highest level of career recognition. Christopher co-authored the book, “Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century” (Syngress, March 2008). He is the founder of