Six Chinese nationals were charged on Thursday in a scheme to harass and coerce a Chinese national who lives in the U.S. to return to his homeland, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court.
Quanzhong An, 55, and his daughter, Guangyang An, 34, who are both residents of Roslyn, New York, were arrested on Thursday morning and charged with conspiring to act as agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), conspiring to commit interstate and international stalking and money laundering.
They allegedly acted on behalf of four individuals associated with the PRC’s Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection – Tian Peng, Chenghua Chen, Chunde Ming, Xuexin Hou, and Weidong Yuan.
“The victims in this case sought to flee an authoritarian government, leaving behind their lives and family, for a better life here,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement on Thursday. “That same government sent agents to the United States to harass, threaten, and forcibly return them to the People’s Republic of China.”
Quanzhong An is accused of harassing both the victim and his family members to try to coerce him to return to China. A family member of the victim who still lives in China was escorted to New York under the guise of an international tour in 2018.
That family member met with the main victim’s son and told him in a recorded conversation that “leadership in China would like to encourage the elite overseas Chinese to return.”
In a series of meetings from 2020 to 2022, Quanzhong An allegedly met with the victim’s son and said he was motivated by the Chinese government’s need to “save their faces” and repatriate as many Chinese fugitives as possible, according to the indictment.
The four suspects who live in China are still at large. Quanzhong An and Guangyang An were scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday afternoon.
The scheme was part of the Chinese government’s “Operation Fox Hunt,” which FBI Director Christopher Wray says was spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014 to “target Chinese nationals whom he sees as threats and who live outside China, across the world.”
“We’re talking about political rivals, dissidents, and critics seeking to expose China’s extensive human rights violations,” Wray said in a speech in July 2020.
“The Chinese government wants to force them to return to China, and China’s tactics to accomplish that are shocking.”
The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. did not return a request for comment on Thursday.