Two people from New York City were detained earlier today on suspicion of running an unauthorized foreign police station for the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in lower Manhattan.
Harry Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan, were accused of plotting to pose as PRC government agents and of obstructing justice by deleting evidence of their conversations with an MPS officer, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The police station was the country’s first of its type, and it was erected on a floor of an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The defendants are charged with cooperating to open and run the covert police station while acting on the orders of an MPS officer. They kept the US government in the dark about their assistance in assisting the PRC government in clandestinely opening and running an MPS police station on US territory.
“This prosecution reveals the Chinese government’s flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty by establishing a secret police station in the middle of New York City, Such a police station has no place here in New York City – or any American community,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York.
The DOJ asserts that prior to aiding in the opening of the police station in early 2022, Lu had a long-standing rapport of trust with PRC law enforcement, particularly the MPS. Lu has been charged with a variety of tasks since 2015 through the operation of the secret police station, including supporting the PRC government’s oppressive actions on US land.
Lu took part in counter protests against adherents of a religion outlawed by PRC law in Washington, DC, in 2015, during PRC President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US. Lu received a plaque from the MPS’s deputy director in recognition of the job he did for the PRC government.
Attempts to get a supposedly PRC fugitive to return to the PRC in 2018 involved Lu. The victim said that she had received persistent pressure to go back to the PRC, including threats of violence against her and her family in both the PRC and the United States.
The MPS official asked Lu in 2022 for help in identifying a pro-democracy activist who lived in California. Lu then enlisted the assistance of a second conspirator. Lu later denied having these talks when questioned about them by the FBI.
“If convicted of conspiring to act as agents of the PRC, the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The obstruction of justice charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison,” the DOJ stated.
Acting Assistant Director Kurt Ronnow of the FBI Counterintelligence Division stated, “This case serves as a powerful reminder that the People’s Republic of China will stop at nothing to bend people to their will and silence messages they don’t want anyone to hear. The FBI is dedicated to protecting everyone in the United States.”