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Tipsheet

DOJ Convicts Illegal Agents of China for Stalking Dissidents in the U.S.

Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP

A federal jury in Brooklyn convicted three defendants early Tuesday on multiple counts of stalking and threatening Chinese nationals in the United States. They were also convicted of conspiring on behalf of the People's Republic of China for a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) repatriation program called "Operation Fox Hunt."

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Retired NYPD sergeant-turned-private investigator Michael McMahon, 55, of Mahwah, New Jersey, was convicted of acting as an illegal agent for the PRC and a conspiracy to commit interstate stalking according to a DOJ press release. Zhu Yong aka Jason Zhu, 66, of Queens was convicted for a mix of similar stalking, conspiracy, and illegal agent charges, and Congying Zheng, 27, of Brooklyn was convicted of conspiracy to commit interstate stalking and interstate stalking.

They were all found to be part of a scheme to stalk, harass, and coerce former residents of China to return "home." McMahon and Zhu were discovered to be knowingly acting "at the direction of the PRC government officials...as part of a global and extralegal repatriation effort" known as "Operation Fox Hunt." Zheng was stalking the same individuals and left "a threatening note at their residence."

The following scare tactics were used by the now-convicted participants in "Operation Fox Hunt," as reported by AP

“If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be all right,” read a translated note that Zheng helped tape to their New Jersey door in 2018, though his lawyer said Zheng quickly had second thoughts and took the note down.

Prosecutors say it was one in a series of pressure tactics that included flying in the man’s then-octogenarian father to warn him that relatives would suffer if he didn’t come home.

“The victim and his family endured years of harassment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Irisa Chen said in an opening statement. “It’s part of a public Chinese government initiative to force people living abroad to return to China against their will.”

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The verdict that came after the end of the three week trial means McMahon now faces up to 20 years in prison, Zhu could be sentenced up to 25 years, and Zheng may spend as many as 10 years behind bars. The specific sentences to be served by the three will be determined by a federal district court judge.

In addition to this specific incident, a string of events have highlighted the Chinese Communist Party's malign activity within the United States, including five individuals charged in March of 2022 for similar crimes.

It doesn't stop at perpetrating transnational repression schemes which, in layman's terms, means using social media and other sources to undermine political figures and Chinese nationals living in the U.S. who oppose the genocidal CCP regime. This is well documented by the Justice Department with dozens of People's Republic of China National Police officers charged in the U.S. for multiple schemes to harass and spread disinformation.

The CCP's criminal operations continue to touch the lives of regular U.S. citizens whether they realize it or not. According to a 2021 DOJ report on the administration of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Chinese media groups such as CGTN, CCTV, and China Daily spent more than $23 million on newspapers and other media distribution programs in the U.S. during the six-month reporting period. The same report showed nearly $1.5 million spent by Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance company which, as Forbes reported, has since been blacklisted by the U.S. government for national security concerns. 

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As of October, 2022, the Council on Foreign Relations reported $280 million spent by Chinese businesses and political parties to influence U.S. politics — more than any other foreign country in the six-year period reviewed.

What's more, two defendants were charged in April for opening and operating an illegal police station in New York on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. Revelations of such activity followed the Chinese spy balloon incident which raised even more questions about the Biden administration's ability to triage an expanding web of CCP threats against the United States here at home. 

In a quite ironic moment, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the following during his remarks before meeting with Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing this week:

It’s safe to say that interactions should always be based on mutual respect and sincerity. I hope that through this visit, Mr. Secretary, you will make more positive contributions to stabilizing China-U.S. relations. 

The actions of President Xi Jinping's Communist regime speak much louder than his words. What part of sending CCP agents and officers to the United States to engage in extralegal policing, stalking, harassment, and coercion — in addition to spying on the U.S. by violating its sovereignty from the air and working toward establishing a joint military training base in Cuba — sounds like "mutual respect" to anyone but the CCP's totalitarian leader?

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