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Agents of Communist China Arrested for IRS Bribery Scheme Targeting Falun Gong in the US

Justice Department complaint marks first time the U.S. government has taken action against CCP agents for attempting to export the persecution of Falun Gong overseas
Leo Timm
Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: May 27, 2023
Falun Gong practitioners and supporters hold pictures of victims who were persecuted by the Chinese government as they take part in an annual rally and demonstration at the National Mall July 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Image: Alex Wong via Getty Images)

Two “illegal agents” serving the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have been arrested in California after they were caught attempting to bribe someone they thought was an IRS official into helping them carry out their mission on U.S. soil.

Chinese citizen Feng Lin, 43, and John Chen, a 70-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen originally from China, allegedly committed the bribery attempt as part of a “scheme targeting U.S.-based practitioners of Falun Gong — a spiritual practice banned in the [People’s Republic of China],” a May 26 press release published on the Justice Department’s website said.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (法輪大法), is a traditional Chinese faith based on meditation exercises and spiritual cultivation according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance (真善忍). Since 1999, the CCP has tried and failed to “eradicate” Falun Gong through a massive persecution campaign including abuses such as torture, forced labor, or murder through organ harvesting.

The CCP has also attempted to expand the persecution of Falun Gong abroad, as for example the DOJ’s now-unsealed complaint against Chen and Feng indicates. The duo had allegedly intended on bribing the New York-based “IRS official” — who was actually working undercover with the FBI — with more than $50,000 in the hopes that the “official” would accept a tip-off against a Falun Gong-related non-profit entity and have the IRS revoke its tax-exempt status.

According to the DOJ, the IRS has advised not to heed Chen and Feng’s complaint, which contained defamatory language against Falun Gong and claimed that revoking the non-profit’s tax status would benefit American taxpayers.

Taking orders from the CCP

Chen and Feng’s alleged deeds were directed from Tianjin, a major port city directly southeast of Beijing, China’s capital. According to the DOJ complaint, Tianjin hosted a major branch of the “610 Office,” which was a CCP group set up by former regime head Jiang Zemin on June 10, 1999 to handle the upcoming campaign against Falun Gong, which began that July.

The two CCP agents, who had had their communications tapped prior to being set up by the FBI, would refer to “Tianjin” in their phone conversations.

Leaked documents provided to overseas Chinese media have highlighted the 610 Office’s presence in Tianjin, and how the city serves as a base for CCP agents to carry out anti-Falun Gong activities overseas, such as in the Chinese community of Flushing in Queens.

Apart from Tianjin, Chen and Feng talked about how they would receive instructions from a Chinese official, and then delete the orders upon receiving them via an encrypted Chinese messaging app. In addition, they would “sound the alarm” to the official back in China if their assignment went awry.

In statements provided to The Epoch Times, Donald Always, the FBI Los Angeles Assistant Director in Charge said that Chen and Feng’s alleged actions were “antithetical to fundamental American values.”

“Those who practice transnational oppression on behalf of the Chinese government must be held accountable,” he said, as reported in a May 26 article by the New York-based outlet.

Also speaking with The Epoch Times, Levi Browde, executive director at the Falun Dafa Information Center, said that the incident “shows the lengths the CCP will go” in pursuing its ideological enemies, even trying to “weaponize U.S. institutions against innocent people.”