40 Officers of China’s National Police Charged in Transnational Repression Schemes Targeting U.S. Residents
Defendants Accused of Creating Fake Social Media Accounts to Harass PRC Dissidents, and Working with Employees of a U.S. Telecommunications Company (Company-1) to Remove Dissidents from Company’s Platform
Two criminal complaints filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging 44 defendants with various crimes related to efforts by the national police of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) – the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) – to harass Chinese nationals residing in the New York metropolitan area and elsewhere in the United States. The defendants, including 40 MPS officers and two officials in the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), allegedly perpetrated transnational repression schemes targeting U.S. residents whose political views and actions are disfavored by the PRC government, such as advocating for democracy in the PRC.
In the two schemes, the defendants created and used fake social media accounts to harass and intimidate PRC dissidents residing abroad and sought to suppress the dissidents’ free speech on the platform of a U.S. telecommunications company (Company-1). The defendants charged in these schemes are believed to reside in the PRC or elsewhere in Asia and remain at large.
“These cases demonstrate the lengths the PRC government will go to silence and harass U.S. persons who exercise their fundamental rights to speak out against PRC oppression, including by unlawfully exploiting a U.S.-based technology company,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “These actions violate our laws and are an affront to our democratic values and basic human rights.”
“China’s Ministry of Public Security used operatives to target people of Chinese descent who had the courage to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party – in one case by covertly spreading propaganda to undermine confidence in our democratic processes and, in another, by suppressing U.S. video conferencing users’ free speech,” said Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division. “We aren’t going to tolerate CCP repression – its efforts to threaten, harass, and intimidate people – here in the United States. The FBI will continue to confront the Chinese government’s efforts to violate our laws and repress the rights and freedoms of people in our country.”
I have no idea what the actual name of Company-1 is, and I suppose that is the point.
Evil never sleeps.
This would be weird from any other country, but my persistent impression has been that Xi is obsessed with soft power, with propaganda, reputation, pride, and influence as the way to create a China-dominated world. It’s way better than Putin’s desire to just conquer an empire, but it leads to some actions like this that nobody else would bother with.
The Kropenhagen Interpretation
Anarchy in the UKDemocracy in China!!!
One thing both Xi and Putin have in common is behaving as if they have trans-national rights to anyone of the appropriate ethnicity. Russia uses the existence of Russian speakers in their near abroad as justification for meddling in those countries’ affairs, even when those Russian speakers are citizens of the other country. Similarly, China is acting as though all Chinese people should be subject to its power regardless of citizenship.
One place where I find this particularly noxious is in the treatment of Chinese emigres. China requires its citizens to renounce their citizenship if they naturalize in another country. Many of my Chinese emigre coworkers delayed naturalizing in the US because of this, since it made it harder for them if/when they visited China. But now, after forcing those people to give up their citizenship, China wants to behave as if it continues to be their government.
@Frankensteinbeck: I have seen claims that pour encourager les autres is involved here — show all the dissidents that they can be targeted.
I wish I were evil. I’m always tired.
@Ken: Intimidate (and worse) is the name of the game.
@Baud: Maybe you’re always tired because your evil won’t let you sleep.
This incident makes me think of Jamal Khashoggi, and I am furious and disgusted. How can the world even begin to impose consequences when the sitting president is just fine with the kidnapping and dismemberment of a good man?
My evil do be like that.
David 🌈 ☘The Establishment☘🌈 Koch
the Red Guard never dies, it won’t even fade away
From the the Justice Department release, a clue:
Google, my first guess.
The RCMP and CSIS are investigating similar CCP operations in all of Canada’s major cities and have been for over a year.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Company 1 is Twitter and Elon was all in on suppressing their speech.
According to many reports, China has over a hundred police stations in countries around the world.
Gin & Tonic
And that they only speak russian due to Stalinist ethnic-cleansing policies.
I hope our commenter from Wuhan is OK. He hasn’t participated much lately. He is in a vulnerable position.
@Gin & Tonic:
Or that they’re ethnic Russians who were deliberately moved to those places as part of Russia’s imperialist policies, e.g. the ethnic Russian population in the Baltic states.
China has enormous leverage over Leon Skum by virtue of its ability to mess with Tesla’s operations there, so my money is on Twitter.
@Burnspbesq: Twitter isn’t a “telecommunications company,” last I checked.
Someone else suggested Google. It’s a bit of a stretch to describe them that way but they do provide “telecommunication services” of a sort, so I’d guess that’s more likely.
@Geminid: It may just be that there is a lot less activity on the covid front since the government data reporting hasas sort of dried up in the US and China, and covid threads are mostly where he comments.
Yeah, I don’t know of a videoconferencing software put out by Twitter. Google has Google Meet, Microsoft has Teams, but I’d guess Zoom. I remember early in the pandemic there was a panic about all communications on Zoom going through China.
It’s almost certainly Zoom.