Washington: A day after two people were detained on suspicion of having connections to a Chinese "secret police station" in New York, a US official declared that the country is making "extensive efforts" to counter Chinese influence operations with allies around the world.
Federal prosecutors claimed that the arrests on Monday were a result of a campaign to stop China from pursuing dissidents, a claim Beijing rejects. The two men detained are both US citizens.
The existence of such police stations has been denied by China's foreign ministry, but it has acknowledged what it claims are volunteer-run locations in the US and other nations that help Chinese nationals living abroad with tasks like renewing driver's licences.
At a routine press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated to reporters that the United States will not tolerate harassment or threat against US citizens by the PRC (People's Republic of China) government or any other foreign government.
US and Western authorities have expressed concern that China's government has increased pressure to silence its critics abroad. They have warned that covert operations frequently target people of Chinese descent in an effort to stifle speech or force them to return to China where they risk punishment.
Human rights organisations have also expressed concern about surveillance of Chinese students on the campuses of international universities and threats to academic freedom.
In a separate hearing before the US House of Representatives, Rick Waters, the deputy assistant secretary of state for China and Taiwan, stated that Washington was aware of China's transnational law enforcement.
According to Waters, the US was collaborating with allies who had discovered the same problem in their nations through "private diplomatic channels" and public diplomacy.
In order to address this particular facet of China's influence agenda, Waters said, "We have been engaged in a pretty extensive effort to share what we know and to develop the tools and response options that are most effective."
Human rights group Safeguard Defenders, based in Europe, revealed the existence of dozens
of Chinese police "service stations" in major cities all over the world, including New York, in a report released in September.