There has been a “mass mobilization” of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agents outside of China. One such case involves the arrest of Baimadajie Angwang on September 21. Prior to his recent arrest, Angwang was a Tibetan-American police officer in Queens, New York, and a U.S. Army reservist. He is charged with acting as an illegal CCP agent, committing wire fraud, making false statements, and obstructing an official proceeding.
The 33-year-old Angwang came to the United States in 2004 at the age of 17 and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was born in Tibet and can speak fluent Mandarin just like the native Han Chinese in the mainland. People from the Tibet Association of New York and New Jersey say that Angwang’s name is actually based on the Chinese Han naming convention, using the Chinese phonetic alphabet.
There were also comments from some Tibetans on social media pointing out that the location where Angwang was born is a place where many young people have become “quite Chinese.”
In reality, Angwang’s parents are CCP members. His mother worked as an official for the Chinese Communist government, his brothers live in China, and one of them is a reservist in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
In the formal indictment, it is alleged that Angwang came to the U.S. initially on a cultural exchange visa. He overstayed in the U.S. with his second visa. He then sought political asylum in the U.S. under the claim that he had been arrested and tortured in China due partly to his Tibetan ethnicity.
However, the reality is that after his asylum application was granted, he traveled back and forth to mainland China on numerous occasions. This is very strong evidence to show that obviously he had submitted false information on his application for political asylum.
The indictment stated that he had been working under the command and control of officials of the CCP consulate in New York since at least 2014, before he joined the police force in 2016.
Angwang is alleged to have collected and evaluated information for the CCP on the activities of Tibetans living in New York and reported this back to the Chinese consulate, to have helped Chinese officials to tie up senior police officials in the U.S. through invitations to official police department events, and to have used reverse techniques to induce Tibetans to become spies for the CCP who also send information to the Chinese consulate.
As for his motives, according to court documents, Angwang once told his handler in the Chinese Consulate whom he called “Boss” that he wanted to help the CCP “bring glory to the country” and “enhance the country’s power.” It was also alleged that Angwang hoped that when the consular officer got promoted, he himself would be invited to return to Beijing in the future.
In a telephone call in May 2019, Angwang recommended to the consular officer that Tibetans who collect intelligence for the consulate should be given a 10-year visa to China as a form of encouragement for them to continue collecting information.
A senior current affairs commentator, Mr. Yokogawa once analyzed that the CCP has many spy agencies collecting intelligence abroad. Apart from the Ministry of State Security (China) which is currently the only official intelligence agency, there are also the Ministry of Public Security (China), a military intelligence agency, and also the United Front that encompasses a network of subservient front organizations and their affiliates abroad.
All these agencies are used to advance the CCP’s interests. The collection of intelligence by amateur or non-professional spies is a form of mass mobilization of the Chinese diaspora.
In the past two years, cases like that of Baimadajie Angwang have put the little-known Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in the spotlight.
The FARA was passed in the U.S. in 1938 during World War II. It was originally intended to be used against Nazi Germany to counter German espionage which was active in the United States at that time. This law requires individuals and institutions representing the interests of foreign powers to register with the U.S. Department of Justice and to disclose their relationship with the foreign government as well as details of related activities and finances.
During the years between 1966 and 2015, there were only seven cases linked to FARA in the United States, hence, few people paid any attention to this law. However, last year (2019) and this year (2020), this law has been applied on two occasions — the Lin Ying case and the Angwang case respectively.
Lin Ying, a former manager for an international airline, Air China, had pleaded guilty to acting as a CCP agent. She helped officials of the CCP stationed at China’s permanent mission to the United Nations smuggle parcels. She was fined US$145,000, and sentenced to a 5-year term of probation.
The U.S. Department of Justice has gradually strengthened the enforcement of FARA to combat the CCP’s influence and its espionage activities in the United States.
Translated by: Chua BC and edited by Michael Segarty