The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has raided a Chinese outpost in New York’s Chinatown suspected of conducting police operations without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval, The New York Times reports.
Beijing says the outposts—of which there are more than 100 around the world receiving heavy scrutiny—aren’t doing police work, but Chinese state media reports say they collect “intelligence” and solve crimes far outside their jurisdiction.
FBI 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, according to The Times.
As Irish, Canadian, and Dutch officials have called for China to shut down police operations in their countries, the FBI raid is the first known example of U.S. authorities seizing materials from one of the outposts.
Chinese state news media reports cite police and local Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials by name who boast about the effectiveness of the offices, frequently referred to as “overseas police service centers,” according to the Times.
“It’s extremely worrying from the human rights perspective. We’re essentially allowing the Chinese diaspora to be controlled by the P.R.C. [People’s Republic of China] rather than subject to our national laws,” said Igor Merheim-Eyre, an adviser to a Slovakian member of the European Parliament.
“That obviously has a huge impact — not only for our relations with the Chinese diaspora across Europe, but also has huge implications for national sovereignty.”