Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.

North Carolina U.S. Sens. Ted Budd and Thom Tillis are among a contingent of 10 Republican senators seeking answers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) about seven “service centers” with ties to the Chinese Communist Party operating across the U.S., including one in Charlotte. 

The group, led by Budd, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday, stating they had “grave concerns regarding reports of ‘Overseas Chinese Service Centers’ (OCSCs) operated by an intelligence service of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in conjunction with the PRC’s national police force.”

According to the letter, the Charlotte OCSC is reportedly housed at the Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce and was first announced in 2017. The other centers are collocated with nonprofits in San Francisco, California; Houston, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; St. Paul, Minnesota; Salt Lake City, Utah, and St. Louis, Missouri, and have reportedly been openly operating for several years and were established throughout the U.S. during this past decade.

In its annual report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has identified that OCSCs are run by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front Work Department (UFWD) and are a “Chinese intelligence service.”

The letter goes on to say that the report states that U.S.- based OCSC representatives met with officials of the PRC’s national police force, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), on a trip to China to discuss the use of technology to conduct “cross-border remote justice services” overseas.

They say the DOJ has warned that MPS conducts covert “intelligence and national security operations far beyond China’s borders,” including “illicit, transnational repression schemes” on U.S. soil.

The senators ask the DOJ if its response has sufficiently addressed the threat given the ongoing discovery of additional OCSCs, which have openly operated for several years, and their activities have been reportedly documented in Chinese state media and social media posts.

Budd joined Nick Craig Tuesday morning on Wilmington’s Morning News with Nick Craig on WAAV 107.9FM & 980AM to discuss the issue:

Budd told Craig the best way to deal with situations like this, along with the stealing of intellectual property and military threats like the Taiwan Strait, is to be strong against aggression.  

“We noticed that China has become more aggressive under Biden because Biden projects weakness,” he told Craig.

Budd, Tillis, and Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Mitt Romney of Utah, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska summed up the letter by asking the DOJ to respond to five questions by July 31, due to the serious nature of the issue:

  • Does the 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 the 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 the DOJ undertake to ensure that it has identified every OCSC or similar PRC facility in the U.S.? 
  • What actions will the DOJ take to ensure that the PRC does not establish additional OCSCs or similar facilities in the U.S.?

In April, the DOJ charged two men from New York City for operating an illegal overseas police station of the Chinese government on behalf of MPS. 

Missouri’s Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced last month that he would investigate the St. Louis OCSC.

When Carolina Journal emailed North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s office to see if he would take similar action, Nazneen Ahmed, a spokesperson for Stein’s office said they wouldn’t be taking any action.