Trump Vows ‘Very Big’ Crackdown on ‘Many Thousands’ of Chinese Spies In America

Trump Vows ‘Very Big’ Crackdown on ‘Many Thousands’ of Chinese Spies In America
Former President Donald Trump leaves the stage after speaking during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 15, 2022. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek
2/4/2023
Updated:
2/4/2023
0:00

Former President Donald Trump said Friday that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “many thousands” of spies operating in the United States and vowed a tough crackdown on them if elected president in 2024.

Trump made the remarks in a video statement on Friday, which came as the country was gripped by news of a Chinese spy balloon sailing over U.S. airspace, including a region of Montana that holds intercontinental ballistic missile launch sites.

“It’s rarely even mentioned that China has many thousands of spies working in the United States, in business, finance, academia, technology, media, and likely, even government, very sadly,” Trump said.

Several recent cases show that CCP espionage activity in the United States is an ongoing problem that’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement.

The Justice Department (DOJ) recently announced charges against 13 people, including suspected Chinese intelligence officers, in three separate cases of alleged plots to illegally advance Chinese interests in America.
While in office, Trump implemented the China Initiative, which led to dozens of prosecutions of suspected spies. The  DOJ said at the time (pdf) it aimed at disrupting the Chinese regime’s “rob, replicate, and replace” strategy through “blatant and systematic theft” of American intellectual property.
On the two-year anniversary of the program’s launch, FBI Director Christopher Wray said his bureau was opening a new China-related counterintelligence case “nearly every 10 hours.”
The China Initiative was disbanded under President Joe Biden’s administration, which the DOJ said after a review was “not the right approach,” and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said the program “fueled a narrative of intolerance and bias.”

Spy Catching To Be Expanded In ‘Very Big Way’

In his video address, Trump touted his tough-on-spies approach and promised to tackle Chinese espionage within the United States with great force if he wins in 2024.

“As President I took the most dramatic action of any administration to curtail China’s ability to conduct espionage in the United States,” Trump said. “And when I’m back in the White House, those efforts will be expanded in a very, very, big way.”

“Instead of hunting down Republicans, a reformed FBI and Justice Department will be hunting down Chinese spies. We will create new partnerships with businesses and universities to give them the tools to protect themselves from insider threats,” Trump continued.

He also said his administration would “impose whatever visa sanctions and travel restrictions are necessary to shut off Chinese access to American secrets in compliance with our demands, and in compliance with our laws.”

Trump also addressed the matter of secret CCP police stations operating on U.S. soil. The Epoch Times has reported the existence of more than 100 police outposts spread across 53 countries.

“The FBI even recently admitted that China operates a secret police force on American soil. How do you like that one? Imposing the iron fist of the Communist Party,” Trump said.

The facilities have been used by the CCP to carry out an illicit campaign of transnational repression, according to Safeguard Defenders, a nonprofit organization that published a Dec. 5 update to its findings from a previous investigation released in October.
“Think of this, the Communist Party rule on Chinese nationals in the United States. Just think about that. We will shut that down and we will shut it down cold.”

Secret CCP Police Stations

The Safeguard Defenders report discovered 48 new overseas police stations with ties to China’s communist regime, including two previously unknown facilities in Los Angeles and New York City.

The report found that four separate police departments in mainland China helped to create the facilities, which the regime began setting up in 2016. The ones in New York and Los Angeles were established in 2018, and are overseen by the Wenzhou Public Security Bureau, located in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province.

The facilities were allegedly created to assist Chinese immigrants in foreign nations with tasks that would normally be handled by a consulate, such as renewing driver’s licenses and visas.

Increasingly, however, the stations have been linked to the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), an agency that works to advance the regime’s interests abroad by spreading propaganda, conducting foreign influence operations, suppressing dissident movements, gathering intelligence, and facilitating the transfer of technology to communist China.

The FBI called the stations a violation of U.S. sovereignty.

“I have to be careful about discussing our specific investigative work, but to me, it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop—you know, in New York let’s say—without proper coordination,” Wray said.

“It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”

Trump’s pledge to get tough on CCP espionage in the United States comes as public attention is focused on the spy balloon, with some—including the former president—calling for it be shot down.

Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.