China said on Tuesday that “political manipulation” was behind the arrests of two men the United States accused of setting up an unauthorised Chinese police station in New York.
Authorities in the city also charged dozens of Chinese security officials in connection with what they said was a campaign to monitor and harass US-based dissidents.
“China firmly opposes the US side’s slandering, smearing, engaging in political manipulation, and maliciously concocting the so-called transnational repression narrative,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing.
“We urge the US to immediately reflect on itself, abandon Cold War thinking and ideological biases, immediately stop related erroneous practices, stop political manipulation, and stop smear attacks against China,” he added.
The arrests of Harry Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, are the first anywhere over a suspected campaign by China to establish surreptitious police posts in countries around the world, said Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn.
The two men set up the office in Manhattan’s Chinatown last year at the behest of the Fuzhou branch of the Ministry of Public Security, China’s national police force, ostensibly to offer services like Chinese driver’s licence renewals, according to Peace.
But in fact their main job was to help track down and harass fugitive dissidents from China, US officials said.
Beijing has set up more than 100 so-called overseas police stations across the globe to monitor, harass and in some cases repatriate Chinese citizens living in exile, the Madrid-based human rights campaign group Safeguard Defenders has said in two reports published online.
The system taps into bilateral security arrangements struck with countries in Europe and Africa to gain a widespread presence internationally, the group has said.
In Southeast Asia, the group says such stations are located in Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia.