Chinese state media have condemned the U.S. arrest of five people accused of acting as illegal agents for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The detainees are allegedly part of an operation to force Chinese refugees to return to the country to face charges.
The FBI amended eight and on Wednesday arrested five people involved in China’s anti-corruption operation, “Operation Foxhunt,” which has been directed against Chinese citizens abroad since 2014, accused of a number of economic crimes. The three people who were not arrested are still at large in China.
The CCP has been cracking down on corruption and economic crimes since President Xi Jinping came to power. Not even high-ranking party officials were spared long prison sentences and heavy fines in Xi’s efforts to cleanse the CCP of corruption. Hundreds of Chinese citizens have returned to China to face charges-some voluntarily, others violently.
The Ministry of Justice said the campaign was aimed at “harassing, persecuting and forcing” U.S. citizens to return to China, including those who fled China to escape prosecution. US officials said the CCP was using the operation to target political dissidents.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said the campaign was “part of China’s multifaceted campaign of theft and malicious influence in our country and around the world. Methods of coercion included leaving threatening letters on the front door of a target’s house and forcing another’s older father to travel to the U.S. to urge him to return.
But the Chinese state media dismissed the charges as a politically motivated ploy, accusing the United States of protecting criminals. The Global Times – a CCP-controlled newspaper that has often been used to spread the most nationalist rhetoric from within the party ranks – said in a statement published on Thursday that the arrests were “outrageous.
“The United States is one of the few countries with the highest concentration of economic criminals and corrupt officials fleeing China,” wrote the Global Times. “But it is also one of the Western countries least willing to cooperate with China’s anti-corruption operations.
“Analysts generally believe that one important reason why the US is not willing to cooperate with China’s ‘Operation Foxhunt’ is that it welcomes or does not hate corrupt Chinese officials,” the Op-ed said, without naming any analysts.
“These corrupt officials have not only violated Chinese laws, but they have also brought a lot of money to the US. Therefore, the U.S. has no real intention of helping China to arrest these criminals”.
According to the Global Times, the arrests were politically motivated. “The US deliberately found fault with China by arresting five foxhunters just before the election,” she wrote.
“With the arrest of the five foxhunters, the USA has reached the end of bilateral relations. This is a political attack against China under the guise of so-called legal operations”.