Writer: Lois

A woman passing by the Chinese Embassy in Berlin on December 11, 2017. Sean Gallup / Getty Images.

Operation Fox Hunt and Operation Sky Net are two programs within Chinese President Xi Jinping’s so-called anti-corruption campaign to repatriate and lock up Chinese fugitives living overseas. The operations have allegedly captured more than 8,000 fugitives abroad since their launch in 2014. The targets are Chinese public officials and businesspeople accused of financial crimes. 

A portion of the hunted live lives of luxury abroad. Others are political refugees and dissidents, like Miles Guo. He fled to New York several years ago after exposing the CCP’s corruption. Mr Guo is the leader of the New Federal State of China (NFSC) and its Whistleblower Movement.

Other targets include:

Many democratic countries have now condemned China for committing genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

In 2015, China’s Interpol, under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), published a list of its 100 most wanted fugitives. In 2016, Hu Ji, a Chinese Interpol cop, was arrested in the United States after stalking a Chinese fugitive in New Jersey. Last October, New York federal prosecutors charged Mr Hu and seven of his team with conspiring as illegal agents for Beijing. Moreover, six of the guilty, including a former New York Police Department (NYPD) detective, were charged with conspiring to engage in interstate stalking. 

Mr Hu’s driver, Johnny, who took the Chinese cop to the target’s home, was also an indirect victim of the CCP’s Operation Fox Hunt. Johnny’s uncle was coerced to stand trial in China for economic crimes. To protect his family, Johnny had agreed to become an indentured CCP spy and help Mr Hu capture his New Jersey Chinese fugitive target.

The Chinese Interpol cop also mobilized a group of at least 19 American and Chinese operatives in his mission. After devising their action plan, the team brought their target’s ageing father from China to New Jersey as human bait, a strategy also known as an “emotional bomb.”

Mr Hu was very experienced in his espionage for the CCP. He had been around the world hunting fugitives, including Fiji, France and Mexico, with his successful missions often reported by Chinese media. He understood his reconnaissance mission in New Jersey was illegal. However, despite declaring himself as a Chinese police officer on his tourist visa, US officials did not deny him entry into the country.

This three-year investigation was the world’s first glimpse under the surface of Operation Fox Hunt. It helped the public better understand how the CCP persecutes Chinese people worldwide while violating other nations’ laws and borders. 

Nevertheless, Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, called the case a smear.

“When conducting law enforcement cooperation with other countries, the Chinese law enforcement authorities strictly observe international law, fully respect foreign laws and judicial sovereignty, and guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of criminal suspects. Their operations are beyond reproach. Driven by ulterior motives, the United States turns a blind eye to basic facts and smears Chinese efforts to repatriate corrupt fugitives and recover illegal proceeds,” said the CCP spokesman.

In 2019, a New York immigration judge granted political asylum to a young Chinese fugitive who fled to the US from Beijing. The man’s former bosses in Beijing accused him of stealing around USD 100,000 after exposing their corruption. The ex-social security clerk, who was on the previously mentioned CCP-most-wanted list, is also under federal protection from continuous CCP agent harassment. 

ProPublica. July 22, 2021. Operation Fox Hunt: How China Exports Repression Using a Network of Spies Hidden in Plain Sight.

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