The Long, Authoritarian Reach of the Chinese Communist Party
On April 17th, U.S. prosecutors in New York announced charges against 44 defendants including 40 officers of China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and two officials in the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), charging them with intimidating, harassing, and censoring people who are criticizing China from within the United States. One case involves two agents who ran a secret police station in Manhattan’s Chinatown out of an otherwise nondescript building. A second case involves a group of individuals who have been disrupting and shutting down video conferences held by Chinese dissidents using a U.S. media company’s platform. And a third case involves 34 MPS officers running a massive online troll farm.
David Newman, a prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, told reporters at a Brooklyn press conference that, “The trio of cases announced today details how [China] through its MPS has engaged in a multi-front campaign to extend the reach and impact of its authoritarian system into the United States and elsewhere around the world.”
U.S. prosecutors have also accused Xingjian “Julien” Jin of working as an agent of the Chinese government from inside a U.S. telecommunications company. They refer to the company only as “Company-1,” however, it is not a secret that the company is Zoom. Zoom became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its founder, Eric S. Yuan, was educated in China, and he started Zoom in 2011 after having worked in tech firms WebEx and Cisco. Even though Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other American media platforms are banned in China, Zoom is available in China and has research and data centers there.
Prosecutors believe that Jin, along with nine other agents of the MPS and the CAC, worked to censor Chinese dissidents using Zoom. Jin and his codefendants—nine of whom are based in China and one in Indonesia—have been accused of trying to terminate meetings started by users critical of China, of blocking their accounts by faking terms-of-service violations, and of putting them on a “quarantine” server with slower response times.
Jin, a China-based former employee of Zoom, was the company’s primary liaison with the Chinese government. He was tasked with monitoring the platform for what the government considered “illegal” meetings, which to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials means meetings that discuss political and religious subjects. Jin’s job was to provide the Chinese government with information about users, meetings, and sometimes even IP addresses. According to Reuters, on June 11, 2020, Wang Dan, a U.S.-based dissident and exiled student leader of the crushed 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, had his Zoom account suspended. He said his June 3 event with about 200 participants was deactivated midstream.
The New York cases represent the first time any country has responded to China’s long reach this way, and we can hope that other nations will follow suit. The human rights organization, Safeguard Defenders, reported that there are 102 Chinese police stations in 53 countries, including the US, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain, and Canada.
The Safeguard Defenders report, titled “Patrol and Persuade,” also noted that in the name of combating telecommunication fraud, operatives have been conducting illegal “persuasion to return” methods on Chinese nationals abroad for them to face criminal proceedings in China. In September, 2021, Safeguard Defenders reported that between April 2021 and July 2022, Chinese police “persuaded” 230,000 alleged fugitives to return to China “voluntarily.”
The “Godfather” trilogy introduced the phrase “an offer he can’t refuse” into the popular lexicon. The CCP is a master of the “offer you can’t refuse” type of “persuasion.” Common tactics include depriving an individual’s children of the right to an education and making his or her siblings or parents “disappear.”
Perhaps more than any other ethnic groups, the Uyghurs (pronounced “WEE-gurs”) have suffered harassment, intimidation, and persecution at the hands of the Chinese government, even though many of them live far away from China.
In May 2012, two years after Xi Jinping came to power, the Chinese government launched the “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism” in Xinjiang against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. In August 2018, Reuters reported that a UN human rights panel accused the Chinese government of holding 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”
To hide its crimes, the Chinese government stepped up its efforts of intimidating and harassing Uyghurs living outside of China to keep them silent. Even Uyghurs living in free countries like the U.S. are afraid to speak out. In countries like Thailand and Vietnam, they face the possibility of kidnap or extradition.
In February 2020, Amnesty International published a report titled “Nowhere Feels Safe,” which includes detailed examples of how the Chinese government has intimidated Uyghur diaspora communities across the globe through pressure from its embassies and consulates in host countries, as well as through messaging apps such as WeChat and threatening phone calls.
To Americans, it is shocking to learn that the Chinese government has been running a secret police station in Manhattan. But secret policing and intimidation tactics are the modus operandi of any authoritarian government. Communist governments have no regard for individual human rights and recognize no limit to their reach. Communism is based on atheism, and its highest value is power. Communist Party authorities are not bound by any moral code.
Just like the former Soviet Union during the Cold War that terrorized dissidents through the infamous KGB, today’s CCP uses the same tactics to silence its critics and hide its atrocities from the international community. In the past, governments with enormous business interests in China have turned a blind eye to CCP crimes. Many European and US companies have also complied with the Chinese government. But as freedom-loving American citizens, we should expose these evils and refuse to participate in them.
Related reading from Dr. Pingnan Shi:
- How the Chinese Communist Party Enslaved One Billion People With Their Consent: What Americans Need to Learn from the Chinese
- Free At Last: Born into Chinese Communism, I Found Christ and Freedom in the West
- My Education During China’s Cultural Revolution: Are Your Children’s Schools Following a Similar Script?
- Lennon’s Imagine: The Siren Song of Communism
grew up during China's Cultural Revolution and immigrated to the US in 1995. He became a high school math teacher after having worked as an engineer for 20 years. Disillusioned with the current schooling model, he became an independent math teacher/tutor in 2018. He writes mainly on education and culture.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/ccp-global-policing