By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. has warned China that covert agents tasked with hunting down alleged Chinese fugitives across the globe are not welcome in America.
The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States to return home immediately. U.S. diplomats previously warned China to stop using covert law enforcement agents on U.S. soil.
The Chinese government has officially named the effort “Operation Fox Hunt.”
Delivered to Chinese officials, the warning comes amid growing tension between Washington and Beijing on a number of issues, including the devaluation of China’s currency and the cyberattack on the Office of Personnel Management, in which tens of millions of classified personnel files of government employees were stolen.
Those tensions are expected to complicate the state visit to Washington next month by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.
The agents have been operating covertly, often entering the U.S. on tourist or trade visas. They are tasked with hunting down economic fugitives and bringing them back to China, sometimes using strong-arm tactics to repatriate them to China, including threatening family members who remain in China.
Director of Operation Fox Hunt Liu Dong has said in the past that Chinese agents working abroad must comply with local laws, and sometimes even work with local law enforcement to locate fugitive suspects.
The campaign has resulted in more than 930 suspects being repatriated since last year, including more than 70 who have returned voluntarily.
Officials declined to provide specific evidence of the activities of the agents.