WASHINGTON (AP) – A congressional commission has called on the Justice Department to investigate an incident in San Francisco in November where protesters claimed to have been confronted and attacked by Chinese government agents during an official visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The group of protesters, who were advocating for the rights of Hong Kong, Tibet, and ethnic Uyghurs, alleged that their attackers’ attire and coordinated actions indicated official involvement from the Chinese government. While they provided no tangible evidence, U.S. officials have previously accused Chinese operatives of targeting individuals in the United States.
Rep. Chris Smith, the chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, is demanding a thorough investigation into the incident, highlighting the injuries sustained by peaceful protesters as a cause for concern.
On the other hand, the Chinese Embassy has denied any involvement and instead accused the protesters of instigating violence during Xi’s visit to San Francisco, calling them “rioters.” The embassy has also called for an investigation into the matter.
The congressional commission is now seeking an investigation by the Justice Department to determine if the violence against the anti-Beijing protesters was orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party and whether the civil rights of the protesters were violated.
The phenomenon of transnational repression, where foreign governments attempt to silence their critics overseas through threats and physical assaults, has raised alarm in Washington. There is growing concern that actions by foreign governments, like China, could jeopardize civil rights within the United States.
Individuals affected by the alleged violence have shared their experiences, with a 51-year-old Chinese dissident, Kaiyu Zhang, stating that he was among those attacked by a group of Chinese men. Zhang described the incident as an “organized crime” backed by the ruling party of China.
As the investigation unfolds, concerns about the safety of advocacy work in the U.S. have surfaced among those who have experienced violence at the hands of pro-Beijing groups. The demand for justice and protection of civil rights in the face of transnational repression is at the forefront of this developing story.