The U.S. Attorney’s office announced the arrests of two people Tuesday in New York City accused of setting up a “secret police station” to harass and intimidate Chinese citizens living overseas, reports the BBC.
Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, both local residents, allegedly served as agents for China to obstruct justice.
CBS News reports the secret police station occupied an entire floor of a multi-story building in Chinatown. Prosecutors alleged the station run by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security targeted dissidents living in the United States.
Authorities believe such police stations are operating in at least 52 other countries, according to the BBC. China denies the allegations.
“The efforts of the PRC to export authoritarian methods to stifle free expression in the United States is a threat to America’s democracy that we will not abide,” said David Newman of the Department of Justice, reported CNN.
The cable network reported last year that the Madrid-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders believes President Xi Jinping government set up more than 100 such stations to monitor activity around the globe.
The arrest will likely increase the rising animosity between the U.S. and China.
“The story out there that the Americans and Chinese are ratcheting up tensions is really not accurate. This is China ratcheting up tensions. This is the Chinese Communist Party trying to exact their repressive regime all over the globe,” said Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.
Of rising concern to the Asian American community is that as relations deteriorate, the likelihood of a backlash against both the Chinese American community and the Asian American community. Attempts in Texas and elsewhere in the country to restrict the purchase of land by Chinese in this country who are not citizens have raised alarm bells.
Asian American groups ranging from moderate to progressive have been meeting to monitor closely such developments and to strategize against any further impact on Asians in the United States.
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