The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday unsealed a complaint and arrest warrants charging eight individuals with conspiring to act as “illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)” in an “international campaign to threaten, harass, surveil, and intimidate” Chinese citizens residing in the United States to return to China.
“The defendants, allegedly acting at the direction and under the control of PRC government officials, conducted surveillance of and engaged in a campaign to harass, stalk, and coerce certain residents of the United States to return to the PRC as part of a global, concerted, and extralegal repatriation effort known as ‘Operation Fox Hunt’,” the Justice Department statement said.
Five of these defendants were arrested Wednesday morning by FBI agents and face the prospect of prison. The names of those arrested include Zhu Yong, Hongru Jin, Michael McMahon, Rong Jing, and Zheng Congying. The first three are set to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon via teleconference. The three who were not arrested “remain at large,” the statement said.
John Demers, the assistant attorney general for the department’s National Security division, said the other three are suspected to be in China, per Reuters.
“For those charged in China and others engaged in this type of conduct,” said Demers, “our message is clear: stay out. This behavior is not welcome here.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray had some additional strong words for China and other potential illegal agents of the authoritarian regime.
“The Chinese government’s brazen attempts to surveil, threaten, and harass our own citizens and lawful permanent residents, while on American soil, are part of China’s diverse campaign of theft and malign influence in our country and around the world,” he said. “The FBI will use all of its tools to investigate and defeat these outrageous actions by the Chinese government, which are an affront to America’s ideals of freedom, human rights, and the rule of law.”
Furthermore, the statement goes on to explain other aspects of this alleged plot, known within the PRC as “Operation Fox Hunt” and “Operation Skynet”:
“In furtherance of the operation, the PRC government targets Chinese individuals living in foreign countries that the PRC government alleges have committed crimes under PRC law and seeks to repatriate them to the PRC to face charges. Rather than rely upon proper forms of international law enforcement cooperation, such as Interpol ‘red notices’ and requests for information through appropriate governmental channels, the defendants allegedly engaged in clandestine, unsanctioned, and illegal conduct within the United States and facilitated the travel of PRC government officials (PRC Officials) to U.S. soil in order to further carry out these illegal acts. Between 2016 and 2019, multiple PRC Officials directed the defendants, and several others, to engage in efforts to coerce the victims to return to the PRC.”
It then details many of these specific instances where PRC government officials directed the aforementioned defendants, including one situation where they targeted a New Jersey resident and his family to try and force them to come back to China.
“The United States will not tolerate the conduct of PRC carrying out state-authorized actions on U.S. soil without notice to, and coordination with, the appropriate U.S. authorities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme. “Nor will we tolerate the unlawful harassment and stalking of U.S. residents to further PRC objectives.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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U.S. Commerce Department: Chinese firms are supplying Russian entities
On Tuesday, the United States Commerce Department said several companies in China are supplying Russia’s military. The announcement was made alongside a “new round of blacklist restrictions for foreign firms aiding Moscow’s war against Ukraine” reports National Review.
“These entities have previously supplied items to Russian entities of concern before February 24, 2022 and continue to contract to supply Russian entity listed and sanctioned parties after Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine,” stated an official Commerce Department notice posted to the Federal Register.
“Commerce also blacklisted several Chinese companies and Chinese government research institutes for their work on naval-technology and supplying Iran with U.S. tech in a way that harms America’s national security” adds National Review.
Six companies that are helping further the Russian invasion are also based in Lithuania, Russia, the U.K., Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
National Review reports:
The Commerce Department stopped short of blaming the Chinese government for the sanctions-evasion activity it identified today. Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo previously said that there doesn’t appear to be any “systemic efforts by China to go around our export controls.” The Biden administration has publicly and privately warned Beijing against supporting the Russian war, with White House officials even leaking to the press about an effort to present China’s ambassador in Washington with information about Russian troop movements ahead of the invasion.
While Beijing has not expressed outright support for the invasion, it has used its propaganda networks to back Moscow’s narrative. Meanwhile, top Chinese and Russian officials have moved to solidify the “no-limits” partnership they declared in early February. General secretary Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin held a call this month, marking the construction of a new bridge between their two countries, during which they reiterated their support for the burgeoning geopolitical alignment.
National-security adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that the U.S. has no indications that Beijing has provided Russia with military equipment. A Finnish think tank, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, estimated on June 12 that Chinese imports of Russian oil since the outset of the conflict have amounted to $13 billion, making China the biggest consumer of the country’s oil exports. Previously, it was Germany. “While Germany cut back on purchases since the start of the war, China’s oil and gas imports from Russia rose in February and remained at a roughly constant level since,” the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission noted.
Official advisor Anton Gerashchenko tweeted incredible video of Ukrainian soldiers sweeping through fields, writing “this is how our fields are de-mined so that farmers can harvest crops.” On Monday a Russian missile struck a mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, where over 1,000 civilians were inside.
“Almost two dozen people were still missing Tuesday one day after a Russian airstrike struck a Ukrainian shopping mall and killed 18 civilians inside…On top of the 18 dead and 21 people missing, Ukrainian Interior Minster Denis Monastyrsky said 59 were injured. Several of the dead were burned beyond recognition” reported the New York Post.
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) June 28, 2022
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