BEIJING (AP) -- China on Tuesday said allegations against a New York City police officer charged with being an “intelligence asset” for the Chinese government are a “pure fabrication” and part of a U.S. plot to smear Chinese diplomats in the United States.
Baimadajie Angwang, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Tibet, allegedly agreed to spy on U.S. supporters of the Tibetan independence movement since 2018 as an agent for China in its effort to suppress the movement, according to a criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.
It says he secretly worked for unnamed handlers from the Chinese Consulate in New York.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Tuesday said the indictment against Angwang was full of hedging terms such as “seems” and “possibly,” giving the appearance that prosecutors were straining to make their case.
“The relevant accusations made by the U.S. side are pure fabrication," Wang told reporters at a daily briefing. “The U.S. plot to discredit the Chinese Consulate and personnel in the United States will not succeed."
There was no allegation that Angwang compromised national security or New York Police Department operations. Still, he was considered “the definition of an insider threat,” William Sweeney, head of the FBI's New York office, said in a statement Monday.
Court papers say Angwang's job as a spy for China was to “locate potential intelligence sources” and “identify potential threats to the (People's Republic of China) in the New York metropolitan area.” He also was expected to provide consulate officials “access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official NYPD events,” they add.
An advocacy group, International Campaign for Tibet, said in a statement that the arrest shows that the “Chinese Communist Party is engaged in malign operations to suppress dissent, not only in Tibet … but any place in the world where Tibetans are free to express themselves.”
Troops sent by China's ruling Communists occupied Tibet in 1950 and Beijing claims the Himalayan region has been Chinese territory for centuries. Many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for much of that time and accuse China of trying to wipe out Tibet's unique Buddhist culture and language while exploiting its natural resources and encouraging Chinese to move there from other parts of the country.