On April 17, the U.S. Justice Department along with federal prosecutors announced the discovery of a secret Chinese police station in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the arrest of two individuals.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping have been charged with conspiring to act as agents for China’s government.
United States Attorney, Breon Peace said that China’s Ministry of Public Security “has repeatedly and flagrantly violated our nation’s sovereignty, including by opening and operating a police station in the middle of New York City.”
According to Fox News, Peace said, “Two miles from our office just across the Brooklyn Bridge, this nondescript office building in the heart of bustling Chinatown in Lower Manhattan, has a dark secret. Until several months ago, an entire floor of this building hosted an undeclared police station of the Chinese National Police,” adding that, “Now, just imagine the NYPD opening an undeclared secret police station in Beijing. It would be unthinkable.”
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Peace said that the police station was providing government services for Chinese nationals, like renewing Chinese driver’s licences, but that even to do such a simple thing, U.S. law stipulates that the defendants, “who act as agents of a foreign government” must give prior notice to the attorney general that such an outfit has been established to provide such services, something that Peace says, “didn’t happen.”
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“More troubling, though, is the fact that the secret police station appears to have had a more sinister use on at least one occasion,” Peace said, adding that, “An official with the Chinese National Police directed one of the defendants — a U.S. citizen who worked at the secret police station — to help locate a pro-democracy activist of Chinese descent living in California. In other words, the Chinese national police appear to have been using the station to track a U.S. resident on U.S. soil.”
Peace says that the two defendants “destroyed evidence” of their communications with the Chinese national police after they discovered they were under investigation and that the two “obstructed justice in an attempt to prevent the FBI from learning the full extent of what they were up to.”
The Justice department described the incident as a “significant national security matter” and the two defendants are scheduled to appear in court on the afternoon of April 17.