China calls the centers "volunteer-run" sites designed to help Chinese nationals obtain their drivers licenses and schedule any associated doctor visits. U.S. intelligence sources, however, say they are police stations where Chinese expatriates are rounded up and pressured to return to China.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee earlier this month that he's aware of and "very concerned" about the centers, but indicated that his major concern is the Chinese Communist Party isn't checking in with him.
Wray: "To me it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop … in New York, let's say, without proper coordination. It violated sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes."
When asked by a GOP senator if such stations violate U.S. law, Wray replied the FBI was "looking into the legal parameters."
Columnist and author Gordon Chang says someone's been asleep at the switch. He wonders why, in the first place, would the Beijing regime feel it could get away with this?
"And the reason is because we've had at least three presidents – Obama, Trump, and Biden – who have known of this Chinese activity on our soil and have not done anything about it," the China expert tells American Family News.
"We should not have permitted this – and the outgrowth of this is now the Chinese feel so bold they can actually open up a police station. We should not cooperate with the police authorities or the ministry of state security of a totalitarian state."
According to Chang, China's leaders are convinced they have what they call the "mandate of heaven" – i.e., that they're supposed to dominate everything under the sun.
"Xi Jinping has been pushing this notion that China is the only legitimate state," he points out. "So, they view us as not sovereign, but basically a vassal state of China."
The New York Post reported at the end of September that the Europe-based human rights watchdog Safeguard Defenders released a report revealing China had opened "dozens" of the sites around the world to monitor its citizens living abroad, including one location in New York City and three in Toronto. According to that group, Europe is home to most of the "police service stations." In all, 54 stations are located in 30 different countries.
As to coordinating with the "host" countries, Safeguard Defenders describes China's "disregard for the use of proper channels and processes in international relations [as] blatant." China, it says, rarely uses legal international procedures to deal with dissidents, preferring instead to set up an "alternative policing and judicial system within third countries."