FBI raids alleged Chinese police outpost in New York's Chinatown, report
Chinese officials have described the outposts as "overseas police service centers" that effectively collect intelligence and solve crimes.
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FBI counterintelligence agents reportedly raided an office building that contained an alleged covert Chinese police outpost in New York's Chinatown.
The raid last fall was part of a criminal probe from the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, according to people with knowledge of the investigation, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Beijing's outpost is one of more than 100 similar offices around the world suspected of carrying out police activities without jurisdiction or diplomatic authorization.
Officials in Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands have called for the Chinese Communist Party to end police activities in their countries.
"The F.B.I. raid is the first known example of the authorities seizing materials from one of the outposts," the Times stated.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington said volunteers run the outposts to assist Chinese nationals in tasks such as renewing their licenses in China.
"They are not police personnel from China," embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu said. "There is no need to make people nervous about this."
However, Chinese state media reports reviewed by the paper show that Chinese officials have described the outposts as "overseas police service centers" that effectively collect intelligence and solve crimes.
Netherlands-based Chinese dissident Lin Shengliang said he and other expats are concerned they are being tracked.
"I am extremely anxious about them," he said. "There are no channels to report this, and there’s nothing we can do about it."
China has a history of surveilling both dissidents and foreign citizens abroad. Last month, the FBI arrested a Chinese national for allegedly harassing a pro-Democracy activist from China at a Boston college. Meanwhile last year, the Federal Communications Commission called the popular Chinese-owned video platform TikTok "a sophisticated surveillance tool."