The Chinese “police station” in New York City’s Chinatown that was raided last fall by the FBI has shut down, according to the State Department.
The office tucked away on the third floor of a six-story building was reportedly part of a network of Chinese police outposts around the world that officials say China could be using to spy on foreign countries and keep tabs on its people abroad.
The FBI raided it last fall, seizing materials from one of the secretive operations for the first time known to the public. Now, a State Department spokesperson told National Review that the station is no more.
“The FBI has confirmed that the ‘overseas police station’ in New York linked to Fuzhou has closed,” the State Department spokesperson told National Review in an emailed statement. The New York Times reported that the outpost was set up by the Chinese city of Fuzhou.
The results of the FBI search still aren’t clear. The spokesperson didn’t clarify when the station closed, but added that “we take this issue very seriously” and said the department is working with U.S. allies to combat Chinese repression abroad, National Review reported.
More than 100 of the so-called Chinese police outposts have been identified around the world by the human rights group Safeguard Defenders.
China says the outposts are mainly staffed by volunteers who help Chinese nationals, but reporting indicates they also collect intelligence, solve crimes without involving local authorities, and even persuade people to return to China, according to the Times.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November that he’s “very concerned” about the outposts, which he called “police stations.”
“It is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop, you know, in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination,” he said at the time. “It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”