Posted on November 2, 2020

U.S. Arrests Five Alleged Chinese Agents, Accusing Them of Targeting Dissidents

Devlin Barrett, Washington Post, October 28, 2020

The FBI has arrested five individuals on charges they conspired as foreign agents in an operation called “Fox Hunt” to try to force immigrants from China who angered that country’s leadership to return there to be punished, officials announced Wednesday.

“China is violating norms and laws left and right,” said FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, adding that the unprecedented case sends a clear message to the Chinese government that “surveilling, stalking, harassing and blackmailing our citizens and lawful permanent residents carry serious risks.”

Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said Fox Hunt sometimes targeted individuals who might have violated financial laws and were legitimate targets of law enforcement investigations. But many other targets, he said, were political rivals, dissidents or critics of the Chinese government. Pursuing those people with threats and coercion, sometimes directed at the relatives of those targeted, represents “a clear violation of the rule of law and international norms,” he said.

Rather than use established legal systems such as Interpol or requests for assistance from U.S. law enforcement, the Chinese agents took matters into their own hands and tried to intimidate people into returning to China, U.S. officials said.

{snip} It also highlights an ongoing tension between the two countries over law enforcement issues — the People’s Republic of China and the United States have long been at odds over a host of extradition issues, and the charges announced Wednesday show how much more contentious that disagreement has become.


Court papers say the surveillance and harassment of Chinese American targets stretched from 2016 to 2019. In one case, the ring allegedly brought the elderly father of one target from China to the New York area to “threaten and attempt to coerce” the man, identified only as John Doe-1, to return to China.