“A fugitive is like a flying kite. Even though he is abroad, the string is held in China.”
WASHINGTON — Mark Mazzetti and Dan Levin write: The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States to pressure prominent expatriates — some wanted in China on charges of corruption — to return home immediately, according to American officials.
“American officials did not disclose the identities or numbers of those being sought by the Chinese in the United States. They are believed to be prominent expatriates, some sought for economic corruption and some for what the Chinese consider political crimes.”
The American officials said that Chinese law enforcement agents covertly in this country are part of Beijing’s global campaign to hunt down and repatriate Chinese fugitives and, in some cases, recover allegedly ill-gotten gains.
The Chinese government has officially named the effort Operation Fox Hunt.
The American warning, which was delivered to Chinese officials in recent weeks and demanded a halt to the activities, reflects escalating anger in Washington about intimidation tactics used by the agents. And it comes at a time of growing tension between Washington and Beijing on a number of issues: from the computer theft of millions of government personnel files that American officials suspect was directed by China, to China’s crackdown on civil liberties, to the devaluation of its currency.
“That reluctance reflects divisions with the Obama administration over how aggressive to publicly confront China on a number of security issues.”
Those tensions are expected to complicate the state visit to Washington next month by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.
The work of the agents is a departure from the routine practice of secret government intelligence gathering that the United States and China have carried out on each other’s soil for decades. The Central Intelligence Agency has a cadre of spies in China, just as China has long deployed its own intelligence operatives into the United States to steal political, economic, military and industrial secrets.
In this case, said American officials, who discussed details of the operation only on the condition of anonymity because of the tense diplomacy surrounding the issue, the Chinese agents are undercover operatives with the Ministry of Public Security, China’s law enforcement branch charged with carrying out Operation Fox Hunt.
“For instance, the White House has gone out of its way to avoid making any public accusations that the Chinese government ordered the computer attack on the Office of Personnel Management, which led to the theft of millions of classified personnel files of government workers and contractors.”
The campaign, a central element of Mr. Xi’s wider battle against corruption, has proved popular with the Chinese public. Since 2014, according to the Ministry of Public Security, more than 930 suspects have been repatriated, including more than 70 who have returned this year voluntarily, the ministry’s website reported in June. According to Chinese media accounts, teams of agents have been dispatched around the globe.
American officials said they had solid evidence that the Chinese agents — who are not in the United States on acknowledged government business, and most likely are entering on tourist or trade visas — use various strong-arm tactics to get fugitives to return. The harassment, which has included threats against family members in China, has intensified recently, officials said. Read the rest of this entry »
An emboldened Beijing clamps down on civil liberties
promote a host of social and political causes.
“Even though the so-called ‘Feminist Five’ were released from custody in April, they say they are still being treated as criminal suspects.”
“Just as President Xi Jinping prepares to attend a U.N. summit in New York in September to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark women’s conference, his administration has begun to clamp down on independent women’s groups for the first time since the NGO Forum.”
Tibetan activists set up stalls. Amnesty International, in China for the first time, rebuked the Chinese government over its human rights practices at a news conference. Then U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton, one of the celebrity attendees, made herself popular with the women by lecturing her Chinese hosts about free speech and assembly after they withheld visas for some of the delegates.
They never looked back—until now.
Ironically, just as President Xi Jinping prepares to attend a U.N. summit in New York in September to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark women’s conference, his administration has begun to clamp down on independent women’s groups for the first time since the NGO Forum.
The restrictions underscore just how far Mr. Xi is turning back the clock on civil liberties in China—all the way to the days of harsh political repression that followed the crushing of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.
They also reveal a transformation in the mind-set of the government, still fearful of organized political opposition but so confident in China’s elevated place in the world that it no longer feels much compulsion to make concessions to its international critics. Read the rest of this entry »
Mr. Teng rose to prominence more than a decade ago for taking on civil rights, religious freedom and other cases that eventually drew the ire of Chinese authorities.
Felicia Sonmez writes: At a U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing in Washington on the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown this week, prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao presented his listeners with a choice.
“They arrest the journalists, then the journalists who speak out for the arrested journalists, then the lawyers who defend the arrested journalists, and then the lawyers who defend the lawyers who defend the journalists.”
“History will require us to answer one question: Did we stand on the side of the ‘Tank Man,’ or on the side of the tank?” Mr. Teng said Wednesday, referring to the iconic photo of a lone man blocking a convoy of military vehicles during the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.
Mr. Teng isn’t from the generation that marched in Beijing and other cities 26 years ago; at the time he was a high school student at a county in northeastern China.
Mr. Teng rose to prominence more than a decade ago for taking on civil rights, religious freedom and other cases that eventually drew the ire of Chinese authorities. His law license was revoked in 2008; authorities have not publicly given a reason. He was harassed and in 2011 was detained for more than 70 days in an unknown location, with officials again declining to publicly address his treatment. He left the mainland in 2012 for Hong Kong.
A year ago, the normally soft-spoken Mr. Teng delivered a forceful speechin Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, declaring at a vigil commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown: “You can’t kill us all.”
“They arrest the journalists, then the journalists who speak out for the arrested journalists, then the lawyers who defend the arrested journalists, and then the lawyers who defend the lawyers who defend the journalists,” he said at the time, describing a tightening of Beijing’s grip over civil society in China. Read the rest of this entry »
If you thought your commute to work was bad, spare a thought for these Chinese construction workers.
Upon closer inspection, he was astonished to find dozens of people crammed into the back of the six-seater minibus. Read the rest of this entry »
…continued from Alex Linder‘s report:
…Police had been clued in to the organizations by a Beijing News investigative report in June that revealed quite a bit of milky details about the websites and their clientele. One of the websites offered two levels of services: “pure” and “impure.” The first being just your standard, run-of-the-mill breastfeeding for a paltry 40,000 RMB a month, while the second denotes a “deeper level of service” (read: sex) for 50,000 RMB a month. Once you choose your plan you are free to browse the site and find the right “milk mama” for you. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING— Brian Spegele reports: Police detained at least two editors and other employees at a major Chinese business news website and placed them under investigation for suspected extortion, state media reported, as the government steps up its scrutiny of journalists.
“Authorities have issued a series of orders in recent months to enforce greater control over media by demanding reporters heed the government line.”
State broadcaster China Central Television said two editors from the 21st Century Business Herald website were among eight people placed into custody Wednesday. At least two public-relations companies were also facing scrutiny as part of the investigation, CCTV said.
Police in Shanghai, who are leading the investigation, didn’t answer telephone calls seeking comment.
The news website, in a statement posted to its microblog account, said it would “actively cooperate with public security organs in their investigation work.” Guangdong Twenty-First Century Media Co., a major Chinese publisher of business newspapers and magazines and controller of the site, declined to comment. Read the rest of this entry »