Former President Donald Trump warned Friday that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “many thousands” of spies in the United States and promised a strong crackdown if re-elected in 2024.
Trump made the remarks in a video speech on Friday, as the country was gripped by reports of a Chinese spy balloon flying above US airspace, including a region of Montana with 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 demonstrate that CCP espionage activities in the United States is a persistent issue that is being pursued by law enforcement.
In three different cases of alleged plans to illegally advance Chinese interests in America, the Justice Department (DOJ) recently announced charges against 13 people, including suspected Chinese intelligence officials.
During his presidency, Trump executed the China Initiative, which resulted in the trial of dozens of accused spies. The Department of Justice stated at the time (pdf) that it wanted to disrupt the Chinese regime’s “rob, replicate, and replace” strategy by engaging in “blatant and systematic theft” of American intellectual property.
Spy catching will be expanded ‘very significantly.’
In his video message, Trump emphasized his tough-on-spies stance and threatened to deal with Chinese espionage within the US with great force if re-elected 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 stated that his administration will “impose whatever visa bans and travel restrictions are required to prevent Chinese access to American secrets in accordance with our demands and laws.”
Trump also addressed the issue of CCP covert police stations operating on American territory. According to the Epoch Times, there are over 100 police outposts distributed over 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.
According to Safeguard Defenders, a nonprofit organization that presented a Dec. 5 update to its findings from a prior study released in October, the facilities have been used by the CCP to carry out an unlawful campaign of international repression.
“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.”
CCP Secret Police Stations
According to the Safeguard Defenders research, 48 new overseas police stations with ties to China’s communist leadership have been uncovered, including two previously unreported locations in Los Angeles and New York City.
According to the article, four independent police departments in mainland China contributed to the establishment of the facilities, which the government began constructing in 2016. The ones in New York and Los Angeles were formed in 2018 and are managed by the Wenzhou Public Security Bureau in Zhejiang Province, eastern China.
The facilities were supposedly built to assist Chinese immigrants in foreign countries with things that a consulate would ordinarily undertake, such as renewing driver’s licenses and visas.
However, the stations are increasingly being linked to the CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), an agency that works to advance the regime’s interests abroad by disseminating propaganda, conducting foreign influence operations, suppressing dissident movements, gathering intelligence, and facilitating technology transfer to communist China.
The FBI referred to the stations as a violation of US 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 commitment to crack down on CCP espionage in the US comes as public attention is focused on the spy balloon, with some, including the previous president, advocating for its destruction.