(The Center Square) — Reports of Chinese intelligence outposts operating in North Carolina have prompted U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Ted Budd to top a 10-signature letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The senators asked five questions of Garland and the Department of Justice, requesting answers by July 31.
The queries are about “Overseas Chinese Service Centers” operated by “the People’s Republic of China” in conjunction with its national police force, a release says of the letter. The letter says the centers are in seven locations, including at the Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Charlotte.
The others, it says, “are collocated with nonprofits” in San Francisco; Houston; St. Louis; Omaha, Neb.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. The signatures are from Republicans in five of the states; none are from California or Minnesota.
The letter says the senators believe the centers are run by the United Front Work Department, an entity “the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has identified as a ‘Chinese intelligence service’ in its annual report to Congress,” the letter says.
The questions in the letter are:
- “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.?”
The letter says it is the senators’ belief the centers have been in operation for multiple years. They question if the Department of Justice is sufficiently addressing the threat given ongoing discovery of new centers.
In addition to Tillis and Budd, Republicans from North Carolina, others signing the letter were Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Pete Ricketts, R-Neb.; Eric Schmitt, R-Mo.; Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.