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35 Years After Tiananmen, Escaped Spy Reveals How Beijing Hunts Dissidents in US: 'Constant Threats'

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He is the first former member of China's secret police to speak publicly about Beijing's active campaign to silence Chinese pro-democracy voices overseas. 

Calling himself 'Eric,' he was an agent for China's Ministry of Public Security or 'First Bureau,' from 2008 until last year, when he defected to Australia.  

He told CBN News, "My job was to collect intelligence about the country I was in and the anti-communist groups there. I was supposed to infiltrate these groups, make friends, and trap targets for return to China." 

Eric was coerced into becoming an agent in 2008 after his arrest for supporting a pro-democracy party and given a choice: help the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) catch dissidents abroad or go to jail. He chose the former, taking on fake identities, such as a property executive and an anti-communist freedom fighter, to lure dissidents to countries where they could be abducted and returned to China.

But because he secretly protected targets and says no one was arrested because of his work, his handlers became suspicious, and he decided to defect.

"I did not want to be responsible for any targets being returned to China and tried to make sure that did not happen, and this made my bosses suspicious of me," Eric said.

Eric's testimony confirms our reporting and the reports of others that a Chinese government spy network is threatening, entrapping, and even kidnapping critics of the Chinese communist government. 

CBN News Coverage:  China Is Operating Illicit Police Stations Inside the US - Why Are They Still Allowed to Be Here?

"These are kind of the methods being used by the CCP. This is not an allegation we're making. This is what their official documents state," says Laura Harth, who tracks Chinese transnational repression for the human rights group Safeguard Defenders

CCP Agents like Eric are known to operate in the U.S., but Harth says these agents are only one part of a larger campaign by the Chinese government, called "The United Front." 
"The United Front is something that's being defined by the Chinese Communist Party as one of its 'secret' or 'magic' weapons. And essentially its task is two things: On the one hand, expand the circle of friends of the Chinese Communist Party. So, co-opting or influencing, politicians, media, academia, and entrepreneurs. But on the other hand, its task is also to crack down on critics, to silence them, to divide them."

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An Amnesty International survey of Chinese students in 24 universities in Europe and North America found that many live in fear of surveillance, harassment, or intimidation by Chinese agents. 

Dissidents sent us photos of Chinese police paying visits to their relatives and warning them they face trouble and even jail if their family member doesn't stop criticizing the Chinese government.
It's unclear how many of the so-called Chinese police stations used to control dissidents are still operating in the U.S. On paper, it might be less than five. The one we reported about above a noodle shop in New York City was finally shut down by authorities. 

Harth says, "It's important to recognize that police stations or so-called police stations is really the tip of the iceberg. It's much more widespread than one, two or three single stations. We need to take a broad view and understand what the wider picture looks like and the amount of proxies and networks that the Chinese Party-state is operating."
Bob Fu, founder and president of the Texas-based ministry China Aid helped lead the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests as a student. He still faces harassment by Chinese agents, 35 years later. 
Fu told CBN News, "In recent months, even I have been harassed and receiving threats, text messages and also CCP agents booked hotels under my name and then called the police, from New York to Los Angeles, from Washington, D.C. to Houston, basically for bomb threats, and said 'Bob Fu was about to set off bombs.'"

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Pro-democracy activist Lijian Jie in Los Angeles, who Chinese agents have tried to kill three times, told us Chinese-Americans are "still surrounded by constant threats of danger."
In a special message to his former colleagues still trying to harass and trap Chinese dissidents, Eric encouraged them to "recognize the nature of the communist party," that "it is a fascist totalitarian party," and that "carrying out these illegal and secret activities in various countries is not good for you." He challenges them to instead "do something good for human civilization." 
Beijing's continued repression of overseas Chinese begs the question, if those Chinese who have fled communism for freedom still live in fear of the Chinese Communist Party, are they really free?

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About The Author


Since joining CBN News, Dale has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America. Dale also covered China's opening to capitalism in the early 1990s, as well as the Yugoslav Civil War. CBN News awarded him its Command Performance Award for his reporting from Moscow and Sarajevo. Since 9/11, Dale has reported extensively on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe. Follow Dale on Twitter @dalehurd and "like" him at