FBI Director Christopher Wray delivered the following remarks during a press conference at the Department of Justice announcing charges against eight defendants in connection with their roles in a campaign to harass, stalk, and coerce certain residents of the U.S. to return to the People’s Republic of China as part of a global, concerted, and extralegal repatriation effort known as Operation Fox Hunt. (Remarks as delivered)
Good morning. Today’s charges reflect yet another example of China’s ongoing and widespread lawless behavior—and our refusal to tolerate it.
Simply put: It’s outrageous that China thinks it can come to our shores, conduct illegal operations, and bend people here in the United States to their will.
In this case, once victims reported China’s harassment to the FBI, we began a multi-year investigation in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and vindicate the rule of law. And the FBI is proud to have this investigation culminate in criminal charges—the first of their kind. Charges that will help China understand that surveilling, stalking, harassing, and blackmailing our citizens and lawful permanent residents carries serious risks.
That message is particularly important, because the sad fact is that this was hardly an isolated incident—and China’s tactics have been appalling. As AAG Demers described, Fox Hunt is a sweeping bid by General Secretary Xi and the Chinese Communist Party to target Chinese nationals here in the United States and across the world who are viewed as threats to the regime.
In another case like this one, when it couldn’t locate a Fox Hunt target, the Chinese government sent an emissary to visit the victim’s family here in the United States. And the message they said to pass on?
The target had two options: Return to China promptly or commit suicide. And what happens when Fox Hunt targets do refuse to return to China?
Their family members, both here in the United States and in China, have been threatened and coerced; and those back in China have even been arrested for leverage. These are not the actions we would expect from a responsible nation state. Instead, it’s more like something we’d expect from an organized criminal syndicate.
It’s important to understand that Fox Hunt is part of the Chinese government’s diverse campaign of theft and malign influence. China is violating laws and norms left and right, from sophisticated cyber attacks targeting our data and personal information, to economic espionage targeting our intellectual property and our trade secrets. And they’re using that information to gain influence on the world stage, to gain economic and political power. All to their benefit, and all very much to our detriment. So, we’ve got to continue doing everything we can to put a stop to it.
I want to thank the folks in our Los Angeles, Newark, New York, and New Haven FBI field offices. And I also want to thank all of our partners who helped with this operation. At the FBI, we know we can’t do it on our own; we need a whole-of-society response—because China is determined to leapfrog the United States and become the dominant global superpower, by any means necessary.
Before I wrap up, I also want to remind you of something I’ve said time and again. Our concern isn’t with the Chinese people, or with Chinese Americans. Our concern is with criminal acts committed at the behest of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party. The FBI and our partners throughout the U.S. government will hold China accountable and protect our nation’s innovation, ideas, and way of life—with the help and vigilance of the American people.
I’d like to close by saying that if you believe the Chinese government is targeting you—that you’re a potential Fox Hunt victim—please reach out to your local FBI field office. With that, I’ll turn it over to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Seth DuCharme, to discuss the specific defendants and charges in this case. Thank you.