This story has been cropping up around the world for several months now. Back in October, an Australian news site published a story about Chinese police operating in unofficial stations around the world, including in the US. In November the BBC covered the story:

The FBI is “concerned” by reports that secret “police stations” linked to China have been set up across the US…

The FBI’s director, Christopher Wray, told senior politicians that the agency was monitoring reports of such centres across the country.

“We are aware of the existence of these stations,” Mr Wray said.

“To me, it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop, you know, in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination,” he added. “It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”

Today the NY Times has a follow-up pointing out that one such station in New York was raided by the FBI.

The nondescript, six-story office building on a busy street in New York’s Chinatown lists several mundane businesses on its lobby directory, including an engineering company, an acupuncturist and an accounting firm.

A more remarkable enterprise, on the third floor, is unlisted: a Chinese outpost suspected of conducting police operations without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval — one of more than 100 such outfits around the world that are unnerving diplomats and intelligence agents.

F.B.I. counterintelligence agents searched the building last fall as part of a criminal investigation being conducted with the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry. The search represents an escalation in a global dispute over China’s efforts to police its diaspora far beyond its borders. Irish, Canadian and Dutch officials have called for China to shut down police operations in their countries. The F.B.I. raid is the first known example of the authorities seizing materials from one of the outposts.

According to the Chinese embassy these sites are no big deal, just a way for Chinese citizens abroad to get help back home when they need it, such as renewing a driver’s license. But the NY Times notes that Chinese media reports have described these sites differently.

They tout the effectiveness of the offices, which are frequently called overseas police service centers. Some reports describe the Chinese outposts “collecting intelligence” and solving crimes abroad without collaborating with local officials…

One article in a newspaper associated with the propaganda department of China’s Qingtian County describes a Chinese woman who said she had money stolen in Budapest. Instead of calling the local authorities, she sought help from the Chinese police outpost there. The people in charge of the police center, the article said, used surveillance footage from a convenience store to identify the thief, a Romanian, and recovered the money through “negotiation and education.”

At least one province tried to make formal agreements for joint training with the NYPD but they were turned down after the NYPD became concerned they might be legitimizing the surveillance of Chinese citizens in New York. A Taiwanese researcher who helped assemble a report on the stations told the Times they were about extending the Chinese police state beyond the country’s borders. “It’s a long-arm power to show their own citizens inside China that their government is so strong. We have the power to reach globally, and even if you go out, you’re still under our control,” he said.

Last March I wrote about Chinese efforts to silence critics here in the US. This included plans to beat up a naturalized US citizen who ran for congress in New York. Another target was a dissident artist living in California who created a giant sculpture of Xi Jinping’s head as a coronavirus.

That sculpture mysteriously burned down shortly after it was revealed, though it’s not clear who was responsible.

Needless to say, these offices should be closed. If Chinese citizens living here need help with something back home they can call relatives or go to the Chinese embassy. We don’t need a local branch of China’s police state in New York City or anywhere else on US soil.

Finally, it’s good to see NY Times readers displaying so much common sense. Here’s a reader from Chicago:

We’ll if their is no problem with another country’s police setting up stations abroad, the Xi (and all the local police) should have no problem with NYPD setting up a “New York Overseas Police Station” in Shanghai…

You know in case a New Yorker needs to renew his drivers license or a little old lady from the Bronx lost her cat Zhongshan Park. Right?

He’s right of course. China wouldn’t tolerate this for one minute and neither should we.

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