Hu Ji has hunted Chinese fugitives “from Fiji to France”, say Sebastian Rotella and Kirsten Berg in ProPublica, becoming a “star” back home in Wuhan for bringing enemies of the Chinese Communist Party to justice. He’s part of Operation Fox Hunt, a shadowy global “fugitive apprehension programme” that claims to have caught more than 8,000 international runaways. The targets aren’t murderers or drug lords; for the most part, they’re public officials and businesspeople accused of boring financial crimes. Some have high-rolling lives overseas, with “lush mansions” and “millions in offshore accounts”. But others are whistle-blowers, “minor figures swept up in provincial conflicts” – or dissident Hong Kongers, Tibetans and Uighurs.
In places such as Vietnam and Australia, Chinese agents abduct their prey and spirit them home covertly. But in the US kidnappings are more difficult. When Fox Hunt operatives confronted rogue billionaire Guo Wengui at his penthouse overlooking Central Park after he made allegations about high-level corruption in Beijing, they were intercepted by the FBI and booted out of the country. But when agents can’t kidnap their targets, they resort to threats against family, recording “hostage-like videos” of relations being subjected to “harassment, jail, torture and other mistreatment”. China is brazenly “defying other nations’ laws and borders”. And, beneath the surface, a “little-known cloak-and-dagger battle” rages between Chinese and American agents on US soil.
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