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US charges 8 in alleged Chinese surveillance effort in US

The Justice Department has charged eight people with participating in a covert effort on behalf of the Chinese government that aimed to locate Chinese dissidents and others in the U.S. who were wanted by Beijing and coercing them into returning to China.

Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday, accused of participating in a covert Chinese operation that officials say was built on intimidation, bullying and “very disturbing” tactics. The other three are believed to be in China.

The arrests are among a series of recent actions the Trump administration has taken against China, a country President Donald Trump regards as a prime adversary.

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 in Washington, as Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers looks on. The Justice Department has charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government to locate Chinese dissidents and political opponents living in the U.S. and coerce them into returning to China. Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday morning. (Sarah SilbigerPool via AP)

In July, for instance, the Justice Department charged hackers working with the Chinese government with targeting firms developing vaccines for the coronavirus and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies across the world.

“China is violating laws and norms left and right,” FBI Director Chris Wray said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 in Washington. The Justice Department has charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government to locate Chinese dissidents and political opponents living in the U.S. and coerce them into returning to China. Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday morning. (Sarah SilbigerPool via AP)

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 in Washington. The Justice Department has charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government to locate Chinese dissidents and political opponents living in the U.S. and coerce them into returning to China. Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday morning. (Sarah SilbigerPool via AP)

FBI Director Christopher Wray listens during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 in Washington. The Justice Department has charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government to locate Chinese dissidents and political opponents living in the U.S. and coerce them into returning to China. Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday morning. (Sarah SilbigerPool via AP)

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, left, and FBI Director Christopher Wray participate in a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 in Washington. The Justice Department has charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government to locate Chinese dissidents and political opponents living in the U.S. and coerce them into returning to China. Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday morning. (Sarah SilbigerPool via AP)

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 in Washington. The Justice Department has charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government to locate Chinese dissidents and political opponents living in the U.S. and coerce them into returning to China. Five of the eight were arrested Wednesday morning. (Sarah SilbigerPool via AP)