RALEIGH — North Carolina Republican Sens. Ted Budd and Thom Tillis are asking questions about Chinese Communist Party “intelligence service centers” operating in U.S. cities.
One of the centers allegedly is operating in Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city.
On July 11, Rep. Dan Bishop (NC-08) tweeted about Budd leading an inquiry into the matter and linked to a report by The Daily Caller that outlined a letter sent by Budd and other lawmakers to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland as well as a list of the centers and their locations.
The following day, Tillis tweeted that he was joining Budd in “demanding answers on behalf of North Carolinians.”
Joining Budd and Tillis in the letter are Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas; Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt of Missouri; Mike Lee and Mitt Romney of Utah as well as Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska.
According to The Daily Caller, the Chinese Communist Party operates an “intelligence service” called the United Front Work Department which operates “Overseas Chinese Service Centers (OCSCs) out of nonprofits in at least seven U.S. cities.”
The Daily Caller article cites Chinese state-media reports from between 2014 and 2017. Those reports showed OCSCs were located in San Francisco, California; Houston, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; St. Paul, Minnesota; Salt Lake City, Utah; St. Louis, Missouri and Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Budd-led letter describes warnings from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) “conducts covert “intelligence and national security operations far beyond China’s borders,” including “illicit, transnational repression schemes” on U.S. soil.”
“Further, the ongoing discovery of additional OCSCs raises the question of whether DOJ’s response sufficiently addresses 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,” Budd’s letter states.
The letter closes with a request for the DOJ to brief the senators or their staff on the matter.
Additionally, the letter requests answers to five questions posed by the senators by July 31.
Questions included probe if the DOJ knows or has assessed whether or not the OCSCs are engaging in illegal activity and if so, what kind of activity and if the DOJ is investigating. The letter also asks what the DOJ is doing to ensure future OCSCs are blocked from operating.
Only one state attorney general so far has apparently initiated an investigation so far – Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey.
North State Journal reached out to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s office as to whether or not Stein was investigating the Charlotte OCSC. Stein has yet to respond to our request.