WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney joined Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC) in writing a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, demanding answers in regards to reports of several Chinese intelligence outposts operating inside of the U.S., including in Salt Lake City.
Romney and Budd were joined by eight other senators who signed the letter, including Utah’s other senator, Mike Lee.
The report describes the intelligence outposts as ‘Overseas Chinese Service Centers (OCSC),’ and alleges that they are operated by an intelligence service of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in conjunction with the PRC’s national police force.
Citing a 2016 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review report to Congress, the senators declare that OCSCs are operated by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front Work Department (UFWD), which have been identified as a Chinese Intelligence Service.
The report also states that U.S. based OCSC representatives met with officials of the PRC’s national police force, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), on a trip to China to discuss the use of technology to conduct ‘cross-border remote justice services’ overseas.
According to a warning from the Department of Justice (DOJ), MPS engages in clandestine ‘intelligence and national security operations far beyond China’s borders,’ including ‘illicit, transnational repression schemes’ on U.S. soil.
Due to the discovery of more OCSCs in the U.S., the Senators question if the DOJ’s response has sufficiently addressed the threat, particularly because OCSCs have openly operated for several years and their activities have been reportedly documented in Chinese state media and social media posts.
The letter requested that the DOJ brief all the Senators who signed the letter on this issue, and answer the following questions by July 31st.
- Does DOJ assess that any of the seven aforementioned OCSCs is engaging in any illegal activity? If so, please describe this illegal activity.
- What action, investigative or otherwise, is DOJ taking in relation to the seven aforementioned OCSCs?
- Is DOJ aware of additional OCSCs or similar PRC facilities operating in the U.S. that have not been previously acknowledged by DOJ? If so, please identify and describe them.
- What actions will DOJ undertake to ensure that it has identified every OCSC or similar PRC facility in the U.S.?
- What actions will DOJ take to ensure that the PRC does not establish additional OCSCs or similar facilities in the U.S.?
Several Chinese OCSCs have been discovered across the U.S., including one reportedly housed at the Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Charlotte, North Carolina, and others have been reported to be collocating with nonprofits in San Francisco, California, Houston, Texas, Omaha, Nebraska, St. Paul, Minnesota, Salt Lake City, Utah, and St. Louis, Missouri.