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350 views • March 10, 2023

Congress Holds Hearing on Chinese Surveillance on the US

Capitol Report
Capitol Report
Lawmakers in the House held a hearing on Thursday to discuss efforts by the Chinese regime and its affiliates to surveil the United States, including the recent transit of a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the country and reports of a Chinese secret police station operating in New York City. "This Chinese surveillance balloon was a brazen display of espionage in the U.S. homeland, but it is ultimately one of many ways the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is working to exploit our vulnerabilities," Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) said in his opening remarks before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence on Thursday. "Today, we must take the conversation beyond the balloon and discuss all the avenues the CCP is threatening U.S. homeland security." Pfluger said the United States still doesn't know what information, if any, the surveillance balloon was able to collect, but said, "[W]e can be certain that the CCP’s intention was to exploit sensitive U.S. military sites and critical infrastructure across the country." During the hearing, Pfluger said China's surveillance activities are of concern and the CCP has pursued a national strategy of "military-civil fusion" with the goal of establishing China's military as the dominant global military force by 2049. He said the Chinese regime is stealing information from U.S. military and civilian targets as part of that strategy. In recent months, a Chinese firm with ties to the CCP has tried to purchase land near U.S. military bases, raising concerns about efforts to monitor U.S. military activities. Lawmakers have also shared concerns about the relationship between the CCP and the popular social media app TikTok, amid reports U.S. user data can be accessed by the app's Chinese parent company ByteDance. Covert Chinese Police Stations Another specific surveillance concern addressed in the hearing was a report (pdf) published in September by the organization Safeguard Defenders, which alleged that China had established covert "police stations" around the world, including in New York City. The American Chang-Le Association was accused of sharing an office space with Chinese agents in the United States, though the organization has denied such accusations. In January, the FBI reportedly searched the address of the alleged covert Chinese police outpost in New York. Rep. Seth Magaziner (D-R.I.), the ranking Democratic member of the subcommittee, said the alleged police station is part of a pattern of Chinese officials surveilling Chinese dissidents abroad who are critical of the Chinese communist regime. "The government of China ... is increasingly autocratic and aggressive," Magaziner told NTD. "One of the ways that has manifested itself is the Chinese government operating a series of offices in the United States and around the world, targeting Chinese nationals who may have anti-CCP views." The United States has accused the Chinese regime of tracking Chinese expatriates and dissidents living abroad. An alleged Chinese effort called "Operation Fox Hunt" entails coercing Chinese dissidents to go back to China by threatening to harass or detain their family members who still reside in China. The Department of Justice recently charged seven individuals in connection with these so-called Fox Hunt operations. Safeguard Defenders believes the alleged covert Chinese police stations in New York City and elsewhere around the world are part of "Operation Fox Hunt." "The Chinese government, of course, denies that these offices exist, but we know that they do," Magaziner said. "And any harassment of individuals in America based on their political views is inappropriate. We are a First Amendment country, we believe that everyone has the right to advocate for what they believe in—particularly democratic ideals—and for the CCP or any nation to try to harass people on U.S. soil from exercising those rights is deeply concerning." Pfluger said U.S. officials are just beginning to understand the extent to which these covert police statio
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