FBI investigates "outrageous" Chinese police stations in the U.S.

Christopher Wray accuses Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party of "exporting their repression" internationally.

FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed in an appearance before the Senate that the agency is investigating Chinese police stations in the U.S. While declining to provide information on the progress, he said he was very "concerned" and "outraged" by what he described as a blatant violation of national sovereignty and international cooperation between law enforcement agencies. Several international studies claim that it is Beijing's tool to apply its repression schemes all over the world.

Safeguard Defenders.

Wray was blunt about the seriousness of these events: "The reason this is so important is because we have seen a clear pattern of the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, exporting their repression right here into the U.S... and we’ve had now a number of indictments that you may have seen of the Chinese engaging in uncoordinated quote-unquote ‘law enforcement’ action right here in the United States, harassing, stalking, surveilling, blackmailing people who they just don’t like or who disagree with the Xi regime. And so it’s a real problem, and it’s something that we’re talking to our foreign partners about as well."

Microphones in cars and private investigators

When asked by Republican Senator Rick Scott about the issue, Wray assured that the FBI is "aware of the existence of these stations. I have to be careful about discussing our specific investigative work, but 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. It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial law enforcement cooperation processes."

The FBI director pointed out the methods they are using, which they have been able to detect thanks to the work his office has done to monitor the situation. "We’ve had situations where they’ve planted bugs inside of Americans’ cars, for example. And one of the things that we’re seeing more and more is them hiring private investigators here in the U.S. to essentially be their agents to conduct some of this work. So this is something that we’re trying to call out" he said.

Departments of Justice and State could intervene

For Wray, although the investigation is still ongoing, there are indications that the Department of Justice will have to take action and "put remedies in place." He mentioned that the State Department may even have to intervene.

The United States is not the only country that has begun to investigate these offices throughout the country. Canada, Europe and other countries opened proceedings following the report by the Spain-based NGO Safeguard Defenders.  "Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild," states that, so far, 54 overseas Chinese police stations have been discovered in 30 countries on five continents, including New York City.

China claims the sites are operated by "volunteers, not police personnel"

In fact, in a report in the Spanish newspaper El Correo, an anonymous Chinese official stressed that "I don't see what's wrong with pressuring criminals to face justice with all the guarantees offered by Chinese law." From the Chinese government, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian dismissed the criticism and stated his version of these places: "The sites you mentioned are not ‘police stations’ or ‘police service centers.’ They assist overseas Chinese nationals who need help in accessing the online service platform to get their driving licenses renewed and receive physical check-ups for that purpose." He further noted that "the venues are provided by local overseas Chinese communities who would like to be helpful, and the people who work on those sites are all volunteers who come from these communities. They are not police personnel from China."