Chinese man charged for plot to coerce ‘fugitive’ expats in US to return to China

Spying, department of justice
Image: Trump White House Archived
  • A Chinese national has been charged with conspiring to act as an illegal agent of the Chinese government in the U.S.
  • Sun Hoi Ying, 53, reportedly hired U.S. private investigators from February 2017 to February 2022 to coerce supposed fugitives of the Chinese government to return to China.
  • In one case, Sun hired a law enforcement officer to threaten a target for refusing to comply with the demands of the Chinese government.
  • In another, he hired private investigators to gather personal information on a Chinese dissident living in the U.S.
  • Sun, who remains at large in China, operated under Beijing’s "Operation Fox Hunt," a plan announced in 2014 that aims to repatriate supposed Chinese fugitives.

A Chinese national was charged in a New York federal court with attempting to coerce targeted Chinese individuals in the U.S. while acting as an illegal agent of the Chinese government.

Court documents describe how 53-year-old Sun Hoi Ying hired private investigators while he operated out of the U.S. from February 2017 to February 2022.

Sun, who remains at large in China, reportedly conspired with at least one local officer to collect personal information on certain individuals. 

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In one case, a law enforcement officer employed intimidation tactics on a target in New York City, threatening the person for refusing to comply with Beijing’s orders to return to China.

A separate case involved private investigators who were tasked with gathering personal information on an individual who the Chinese government included in a published list of dissidents. 

The subject’s daughter, who is a U.S. citizen and was pregnant at the time, was detained against her will in China for about eight months. She was pressured to convince the target to return to China with threats that she would not be allowed to return to the U.S. 

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Sun’s charges were part of an investigation by the FBI into agents allegedly sent by Beijing to coerce targeted individuals in the U.S. and others to return to China. 

According to the documents, Sun was operating under Beijing’s orders for “Operation Fox Hunt,” a plan announced in 2014 that aims to repatriate supposed Chinese fugitives.

The FBI and Justice Department called the operation “transnational repression,” referring to the acts of agents of a foreign government that seek to silence dissidents who have been living in the U.S. 

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Five people were similarly charged early this month for acting on Beijing’s orders to threaten and coerce targets, one of whom was Yan Xiong, a Chinese dissident running for Congress in New York’s 1st congressional district as a Democrat.

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