The FBI on Monday arrested two New York City residents “in connection with opening and operating an illegal overseas police station.”
Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan, were arrested Monday morning and “are charged with conspiring to act as agents of the [People’s Republic of China] government, as well as obstructing justice by destroying evidence of their communications with an MPS [Chinese Ministry of Public Security] official,” a Justice Department press release said.
Lu, who is said to have assisted with opening the police station in early 2022, and Chen “worked together to establish the first overseas police station in the United States on behalf of the Fuzhou branch of the MPS,” the Justice Department said.
“While acting under the direction and control of an MPS official, Lu and Chen helped open and operate the clandestine police station,” the press release said. “None of the participants in the scheme informed the U.S. government that they were helping the PRC government surreptitiously open and operate an illegal MPS police station on U.S. soil.”
According to the Justice Department, “before helping to open the police station in early 2022, Lu had a long-standing relationship of trust with PRC law enforcement, including the MPS,” and “since 2015, and through the operation of the secret police station, Lu was tasked with carrying out various activities, including to assist the PRC government’s repressive activities on U.S. soil,” including:
In 2015, during [Chinese] President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, Lu participated in counterprotests in Washington, D.C., against members of a religion that is forbidden under PRC law. A deputy director of the MPS awarded Lu a plaque for the work he performed on behalf of the PRC government.
In 2018, Lu was enlisted in efforts to cause a purported PRC fugitive to return to the PRC. The victim reported being repeatedly harassed to return to the PRC, including through threats of violence made to the victim and the victim’s family in the United States and in the PRC.
In 2022, the MPS official sought Lu’s assistance in locating an individual living in California who is a pro-democracy activist. In turn, Lu enlisted the help of another co-conspirator. Later, when confronted by the FBI about those conversations, Lu denied that they occurred.
“It is simply outrageous that China’s Ministry of Public Security thinks it can get away with establishing a secret, illegal police station on U.S. soil to aid its efforts to export repression and subvert our rule of law,” Kurt Ronnow, acting assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, said in the press release. “This case serves as a powerful reminder that the People’s Republic of China will stop at nothing to bend people to their will and silence messages they don’t want anyone to hear.
The FBI is dedicated to protecting everyone in the United States against efforts to undermine our democratic freedoms, and we’ll hold any state actors—and those who help them—accountable for breaking our laws.
Erin Walsh, senior research fellow for international affairs with The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, weighed in on the two men’s arrests. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“This is a relief. Last November, the FBI director told members of Congress that they were aware of the existence of Chinese police stations in the U.S., but were unable to comment further as active investigations were ongoing,” Walsh told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement. “Unfortunately, it takes time to establish the case. There are reportedly more than 100 such police stations around the world today, and it is highly likely this is not the only Chinese Communist Party police station in the United States at this time.
“So, we hope the FBI will step up the pace, and that American or Chinese citizens will report any suspicious activity. It was extremely positive that the FBI has set up a hotline to accept anonymous tips or activity,” she added.
“The arrests today are yet another example of the audacious authoritarian Chinese Communists Party’s malign efforts to intimidate, surveil, and threaten the Chinese people, both in China and abroad,” she said. “In fact, their efforts do not stop with their own citizens. The CCP has an elaborate network of programs they have established in the U.S. over the past two decades, which have penetrated every aspect of American society at the federal, state, and local level.”
They range “from espionage [and] influence operations, to theft and intimidation. Between the spy balloon and the police station in New York, you have just begun to see the tip of the iceberg,” Walsh said.