Edited By: Shankhyaneel Sarkar
Last Updated: January 27, 2023, 09:40 IST
The FBI raided the offices of America Changle Association which allegedly housed a ‘overseas police outpost’ on its third floor, from where it harassed dissidents, Chinese citizens (Image: Google Maps/Peter Keppeler)
Operation Fox Hunt is China’s drive to set up police stations abroad from where they can harass dissidents and minorities who have fled China fearing for their lives
As China tries to strong-arm dissidents living abroad through its so-called ‘police stations’, once such ‘police station’ in New York has been raided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
America Changle Association, which is headquartered in Manhattan, was raided by the FBI in January and its chief Lu Jianshun, known as Jimmy Lu, was also questioned regarding an outpost on the third floor of the building from which the organisation was carrying out its operations.
Reports by the New York Times and the Daily Mail indicate that the building housed an engineering company, an acupuncturist and an accounting firm’s offices in the same building but the office on the third floor was a Chinese outpost.
The New York Times in its story described the outpost as being those ‘police stations’ which operate without diplomatic approval and harass dissidents.
Reports by several news agencies indicate that there are 100 such overseas police stations across the globe including in Japan, Italy, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other nations.
Though the Chinese embassy downplayed the news reports of the raids, saying that these ‘offices’ help Chinese citizens abroad, but reports by Chinese state-run media indicate that these ‘overseas police service centres’ collect intelligence and solve crimes abroad without collaborating with local law enforcement.
It is unclear though who runs these offices, but the New York Times referred to one report where the person held responsible for running the office was the director, which in this case would be Lu Jianshun ir Jimmy Lu.
The newspaper said that some of these articles were removed after they attracted the attention of police officers in the US and the other countries.
News18 ran a Google Search for ‘America Changle Association NY Inc’ and found several negative reviews of the establishment where most people also described it as a secret police outpost.
The NYT report also revealed that the Changle Association in New York was set up by the city of Fuzhou. It cited the state-run China Youth Daily in a news article but that article has now been deleted. The report also pointed out that the cities of Qingtian, Nantong and Wenzhou have also set up posts like these across the globe.
The authorities in China choose private businesses, including Chinese restaurants and commercial associations to set up these outposts. The Chinese embassy said that these ‘spaces’ are provided by the diaspora Chinese communities who like to be helpful and the authorities use them to help overseas Chinese community members to renew their driving licences or help with small, mundane processes.
One revelation which will hurt the Democrats is that the Changle Association is a donor to Mayor Eric Adams of New York.
The report by the New York Times points out that law enforcement officials of one country working in another country is not inappropriate since most nations declare themselves to the government of the country they are in and work out of respective embassies. If they perform any duties related to law enforcement, they keep local authorities in the loop or do so after getting permission.
China followed this rule in Italy, and conducts joint patrols there as it is a popular destination for Chinese tourists.
The report says that the subject of the FBI investigation is unclear but it could be a move to end Operation Fox Hunt.
The report says Operation Fox Hunt is China’s tactic to use Chinese officials to hunt down fugitives and dissidents abroad and pressure them to return home. It uses the same technique to disturb Tibetan and Uighur minorities living abroad.
FBI chief Christopher Wray said it is outrageous for China to think that it can enter US territory without approval and conduct illegal operations in 2020. He said they cannot ‘bend people here in the United States to their will.’
Read all the Latest News here