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Chinese police officers wearing masks stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate on January 26, 2020 in Beijing, China. Photo by Betsy Joles/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reportedly opened at least one “overseas police service station” in the U.S. in an “illegal” effort to monitor Chinese citizens living abroad, according to an investigative report by human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders. The station could also enable the CCP to engage in “sabotage” or “espionage,” one expert warned.

According to a report entitled 110 Overseas – Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild, which was released in mid-September, the Chinese government has established at least 54 police stations in 30 countries across five continents, though “the total number is most likely higher.”

At least one of the CCP-run law enforcement stations operates from the United States and is housed in New York City.

Located at 107 East Broadway, the New York outpost was reportedly among the “first batch” established by the CCP’s Public Security Bureau and opened February 15 inside the headquarters of the American ChangLe Association (ACA), The Epoch Times reported.

According to the outlet, the ACA is “a nonprofit with close ties to the Chinese regime.”

LifeSiteNews previously reported that at least three such police stations operate out of Toronto in Canada. Other major cities that house the stations include Dublin and London.

“The overseas service stations are primarily set up to conduct a series of seemingly administrative tasks to aid overseas Chinese in their community of residence abroad, but they also serve a far more sinister and wholly illegal purpose,” the Safeguard Defenders report states.

According to the investigation, although “the evidence available so far suggests most transnational policing operations are carried out through the online tools of the domestically operated ‘overseas station,’” there are “official anecdotes of official operations” that “explicitly cite the active involvement of the Hometown Associations on the ground in tracking and pursuing targets indicated by the local Public Security Bureau or Procuratorate in China.”

Safeguard Defenders reported that between April 2021 and July 2022 some 230,000 Chinese citizens living abroad have been “persuaded to return” to China through a variety of methods, including “threats and harassment to family members back home.” Once in China, the targets could face potential criminal charges, or be tapped to serve the CCP government’s interests.

Frank Gaffney, the executive chairman at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, warned The Epoch Times’ NTD News that the stations could be used for sabotage or espionage, among other malicious motives.

“The Chinese are not simply forcing people to go back to China and stand trial, but they may be giving them directions to do other things,” Gaffney told the “China in Focus” program on NTD news.

The Epoch Times noted that the “other things” could include “espionage, recruitment, influence operations, sabotage, or subversion.”

Naming the “illegal methods adopted to circumvent official international cooperation mechanisms” among other reasons, Safeguard Defenders suggested the police stations “pose a most grave risk to the international rule of law and territorial sovereignty.”

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China’s influence and power within the United States has become a national security concern among American lawmakers in recent years.

Legislators, many of them Republican, have raised the alarm over the Chinese government’s ideological influence over American schools through university “Confucius Institutes.”

In addition, lawmakers have ratcheted up concerns and pushed forward legislation to crack down on the Chinese government’s purchasing of American real estate.

Chinese investors have become America’s largest foreign group of real estate buyers over the past decade, spending more than $188 billion in American land and property acquisitions since 2013. Last year alone, Chinese buyers purchased a record $6.1 billion in U.S. real estate.

This summer, the China-based Fufeng Group drew national attention after proposing a $700 million deal to purchase land in North Dakota near a military base, allegedly for an agribusiness facility, according to The South China Morning Post.

In response, Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of nearby South Dakota introduced the Senate version of the “Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security Act of 2022,” which would “blacklist China” and other bad actors from continuing to buy up American farmland or agricultural companies.

Last month, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a slate of legislative agenda items to rein in the influence of the CCP in the Sunshine State, including an explicit call to ban the Chinese government and certain other foreign governments from buying up agricultural land as well as property near military bases.

READ: DeSantis takes action to curb CCP influence, stop Chinese gov’t from buying Florida land

“Today, I took action to protect Floridians from the bad intentions of adversaries abroad, such as the Chinese Communist Party,” the Florida governor wrote in a September 22 tweet.

“From server farms to farmland, the Communist Party of China has been worming its way into our nation’s data storage systems and buying up tracts of land near sensitive national security sites,” DeSantis said in a press release, adding that “Florida is leading the way to protect our nation from international foes.”