The FBI reportedly executed a raid on an office building in New York's Chinatown that was suspected of being a covert outpost for China's communist regime, The New York Times has revealed.
The raid, which was carried out last fall, was part of a criminal probe by the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn. The Chinese Embassy in Washington insists that the outposts are run by volunteers who assist Chinese nationals in tasks such as renewing their licenses in China and are not police personnel from China.
"They are not police personnel from China," embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu said. "There is no need to make people nervous about this." Chinese state media has described the outposts as "overseas police service centers" that collect intelligence and solve crimes.
This is not the first time that Chinese outposts have come under scrutiny. Security officials in Ireland, Canada, and the Netherlands have all demanded the regime end police activities in their respective countries.
Chinese dissident Lin Shengliang, who lives in the Netherlands, said that he and other expats are concerned they are being tracked.
"I am extremely anxious about them," he admitted. "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. The FBI arrested a Chinese national last month for allegedly harassing a pro-Democracy activist from China at a Boston college. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission called the popular Chinese-owned video platform TikTok "a sophisticated surveillance tool."
The raid is the first known instance of the FBI seizing materials from one of the outposts. China's use of these outposts to collect intelligence and carry out police activities without jurisdiction or diplomatic authorization represents a growing concern for U.S. authorities.
China has a record of carrying out surveillance on dissidents and foreign citizens abroad. Last month, the FBI arrested a Chinese national on charges of harassing a pro-Democracy activist from China at a college in Boston.
Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has labeled the popular Chinese-owned video platform TikTok "a sophisticated surveillance tool" as various lawmakers push for the app to be banned in the U.S. altogether.