Operation Fox Hunt — China Targets Its Expatriates

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

According to news stories in Western sources, China is now conducting a global campaign to capture Chinese fugitives and recover illicit funds. Chinese police and security forces are entering foreign countries, illegally detaining fugitives, and shipping them back to China without any due process.

 

Fox silhouette with concept phase inside on blur background of forest

 

Some of the fugitives may have been guilty of committing acts that would be considered crimes in the US and other Western nations. Unfortunately, in China, the term “fugitive” is also applied to political dissenters that have escaped.

Even in cases involving actual criminals, the Chinese are ignoring US laws in pursuit of their quarry.

Foreign governments wishing to detain criminals that have escaped to the US must first convince the US government of each individual case’s legitimacy. If the US agrees that a case is legitimate, then foreign police officers may be granted legal entry. The foreign police officers would then have to work with US law enforcement agencies to arrest the suspect. The Chinese have no desire to meet these normal requirements of US and other Western governments.

One of the results of China’s new economic success combined with its endemic corruption is that it now has more criminals escaping China with wealth.

In communist China, today’s revered business mogul, general, or party official may be tomorrow’s wanted criminal. Financial corruption at all levels of the Chinese government is completely normal. As long as a corrupt individual remains in favor with the oligarchy, he may remain a revered hero. That same “hero” instantly takes on demon status when he falls from favor. When said hero sees the ideographs on the wall and gets out of Dodge – or Shanghai, Beijing, etc. – a fugitive is born. If said fugitive demon manages to transfer wealth out of China while getting the hell out of Dodge, then he becomes a more urgently wanted fugitive.

To be fair, I must point out that chasing targets in other people’s countries is not a completely Chinese invention.

I seem to recall hearing a rumor or two about extreme cases when US agents escorted wanted individuals back to the US without the permission of the foreign nations where those individuals may have been residing. Not that I would ever do anything so impolite, myself. These are just rumors, and I don’t remember where I heard them. I’m old, and I forget stuff. In any event, it happens more frequently in fiction than in reality. Overall, it all really comes down to the relationships between the nations in question.

When nations have anything like a reasonable working relationship, they are unlikely to resort to snatch jobs.

For one thing, they don’t need to. For another, they don’t want to damage workable relationships by pursuing every annoying criminal or NSA whistle blower. Let us consider the case of Edward Snowden as a well-known example. Edward committed an unforgiveable sin. He did something that made him a more sought-after fugitive than if he had been a serial killer – he embarrassed the US government and the governments of several of our allies.

You will note that Edward resides in Russia. It’s not because he likes the food, weather, or women better than what he might have had available in, say, Italy, Spain, France, etc. Or, if he wasn’t hungry, perhaps he might even have relocated to England or Germany. But Edward chose Russia because he knew that Russia would not send him back to the US. He also guessed correctly that he would quickly become a high profile case, and that the US would not attempt to chase him while he was under the protection of Putin and pals.

In the case of China, the Chinese government knows that it has nearly zero diplomatic capital to trade on. In China’s judgment, if it wants someone, it needs to go out and hunt him down. The Chinese have named their program for hunting fugitives and their cash Operation Fox Hunt.

The agents employed by China in Operation Fox Hunt are not employees of the Chinese Ministry of Justice, but rather employees of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. The methods used by the Chinese agents chasing “fugitives” are often extreme. In some cases, the fugitives’ family members in China are threatened in order to force the fugitives to return.

The Chinese government let its citizens know that Operation Fox Hunt has captured and returned over 900 fugitives to China. That figure indicates a scope of activity that surpasses Hollywood’s wildest imagination. In fact, it even dwarfs the vast Iranian efforts at controlling, murdering, or snatching Iranian expatriates. The message to the people of China is clear. Annoy the Chinese government, and there will be no escape from its wrath.

Having publicized Operation Fox Hunt to its domestic audience, China will now deny it to everyone else.

Our well-dressed friends from Foggy Bottom (the US State Department) reported that they warned Chinese officials about the activities. I assume that the State Department’s warning will be as effective as all the other warnings that the US has issued to China in the last hundred years, as in not at all.

Next month, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the US. I have no doubt that one White House aide or another will, with a serious look on his or her face, tell us that during their meetings, our President “expressed our grave concerns.” The result of that meeting will be similar to the results of our last dozen meetings with the Chinese, as in nothing will happen.

One of the implications of China’s Operation Fox Hunt is perhaps less obvious than China’s usual lack of ethical conduct, but it is more important. For more than 900 expatriate Chinese to be captured and returned from the West, the appropriate Western agencies would have to be asleep at the switch.

 

Actual photo of Western agency during Operation Fox Hunt

Actual photo of Western agency during Operation Fox Hunt

 

Given the cost to Western taxpayers of those various agencies, the naps in question are more outlandishly expensive than an Obama family vacation or a Congressional junket. If all this activity has been missed by our beloved and oh-so-clever Department of Homeland Security, Britain’s MI-5, or the French Surete Nationale etc., then what else have they been missing? Let’s not ask them. They would simply respond by asking to have their budgets doubled.

One possibility is that Western Governments have known about Operation Fox Hunt, but they have remained silent until the Chinese decided to expose it to its citizens for the propaganda value.

Let me be clear that I am speaking from the point of view of a casual observer. I have no access to classified information concerning Operation Fox Hunt – not even the usual emails from Hillary.

That being said, Western governments might not like what the Chinese are doing, but lacking a practical and effective response, they have until now ignored Operation Fox Hunt.

In many cases, the West may have no desire to keep China from capturing its expatriate party elites. Not all wealthy Chinese escapees are criminals in the traditional sense, and it is likely that a few of them are legitimate prisoners of conscience. How many times various Western agencies may have foiled Chinese Fox Hunts is unknown. Western governments don’t usually publicize such successes unless there is a diplomatic advantage in doing so.

Behind the smoke and mirrors, one can discern a clear message.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to extend his authority to Maoist proportions, he needs to convince the Chinese people that his power grabbing campaign is actually a campaign to save China from “those corrupt traitors.” Operation Fox Hunt is just another facet of Xi’s bigger game. As long as Xi Jinping is able to hold the throne, don’t expect meaningful positive change in China.

Syria and the Fading Dull Pink Smudge

By Jay Holmes

As of September 22, 2013, the civil war in Syria continues to generate more humanitarian disasters than the world’s observers can tolerate. Identifying Syria as a humanitarian crisis is simple enough. Refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey now house approximately two million Syrians. Various Syrian and non-Syrian visitors feed the media a constant stream of pictures and videos showing the daily casualties. People of all political flavors share revulsion for so many civilian deaths.

Za'atri Refugee Camp, image by US. Dept. of State

Za’atri Refugee Camp, image by US. Dept. of State

In particular, seeing the stark evidence of children killed by chemical weapons attacks or executed at point blank range by a variety of fighting groups has left most of the world with a feeling that something must be done in Syria. Only a ruthless psychopath, a.k.a. Vladimir Putin, could attempt to gloss over the humanitarian crisis. To that degree, the picture of events in Syria is quite clear. However, once we move beyond our widely-shared instinct to respond to the horrors of the Syrian civil war to the question of how to respond, the picture becomes murky.

So what should be done? As is often the case, the devil is in the details. Right now details and devils abound in Syria. When we begin to examine the question of what concrete actions should be undertaken, we find less agreement among sympathizers.

As often occurs during a major humanitarian crisis, many of the world’s ardent leftists are taking a break from their usual full-time occupation of condemning the US for its “interventionist bullying” and are now loudly proclaiming that the US’s failure to forcefully intervene in Syria is the principal cause of Syria’s problems. At the same time, many of the world’s members of the “I’m not a stinking leftist” political club are disgusted that the US has allowed Iran and its Hezbolalalala minions to use their manpower, weapons, and ruthlessness in Syria and Lebanon to suppress Syria’s indigenous Freedom fighters.

This past February, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former Director of State Policy Planning under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, suggested that the US and any willing allies should create “no-kill zones” in Syria. These seemingly magical “no kill zones” would, in her view, expand over time and eventually isolate the Assad regime. If the allies in question would include Harry Potter and his band of merry magicians, then they might pull it off. If not, the plan needs more work.

Senator McCain, a man who is far more aware than most of us of the consequences of involving US forces in combat operations, has suggested that the US use some of its “stand off” cruise missiles to damage the Assad regime. The emphasis on “stand off” is Senator McCain’s. On the face of it, this seems like a comparatively low cost, low risk option. Depending on which particular model of cruise missile cruises into Syria, the “low cost” would be somewhere between $600,000 to $1,500,000 per missile. That would be a real bargain at today’s interventionist prices.

Senator McCain has been clear that he does not support large numbers of combat troops in Syria. However, it’s safe to say that a few sets of American boots must be on the ground there, gathering information about the dizzying array of foreign boots in Syria and trying to select out the “best boots” with which to share US-financed weapons and other supplies. With those Russian, American, British, French, and Turkish boots that are scampering about Syria trying to avoid stomping on the wrong Syrian feet, it’s difficult to generate a clear implementation of all the muddled policies being proposed by various nations.

The Gulf States are trying to support their favorite anti-Assad factions without accidentally helping all the al-Qaeda vermin that currently infest so many Syrian areas. As a result, confusion is the order of the day. The fact that the many al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda wannabes are happy to murder anyone not currently in their gangs brings even more instability and misery to Syrians. Shipping US military aid to Syria is easy enough. Finding someone likeable to hand it to is a bit more tricky.

When the Syrian civil war began two and a half years ago, members of the Western media managed to cobble together one of their exceedingly rare intelligent questions for President Obama. They asked him what the US should do about Assad’s chemical weapons inventory. The President demanded that we all let him be clear that the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces would cross a “clear red line.” Assad’s forces have since used chemical weapons and proven that President Obama’s “clear red line” was a completely meaningless, fading dull pink smudge.

"His Red Lines" by Ranan Lurie

“His Red Lines” by Ranan Lurie

From the American point of view, some interesting events have occurred since Assad’s forces urinated on Obama’s infamous red line. For starters, Vlady Putin claimed that he had proof that it was not Assad, but rather his opponents, that used chemical weapons on women and children in Syria. Those of us who are familiar with the workings of Putin and his old KGB machinery have no doubt that Putin can present “proof’ that Assad didn’t use chemical weapons. If Putin wanted, he could also provide proof that Afghanistan is in South America, and that the USSR invented ice cream. Thanks for all that Vlady.

Putin proposed that Assad send all of Syria’s chemical weapons to Russia for safe keeping. Finding himself on the wrong side of his imaginary red line, President Obama quickly agreed to a deal that will have all of Assad’s chemical weapons shipped to Russia by “mid 2014.” How many Syrian children will be murdered by chemical attacks until then was not discussed as part of the deal.

When the US led the Western world in escalating its Syrian response from frowning and grave concern to shock and dismay, the UK felt compelled to act. UK Prime Minister David Cameron clarified precisely what our “special friendship” partners in the UK would do if the US decided to directly attack the Assad regime. In response to the pressure and stress of the escalated finger waving, the UK parliament voted to surrender. The UK announced that it would not contribute to any military effort in Syria.

This declaration has farther reaching consequences than might be obvious to the casual observer. From my desk at home, I was able to imagine the cheers of joy emanating from La Casa Rosa as Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner celebrated her nation’s military victory in the Falklands. While the Falklands invasion 2.0 hasn’t occurred quite yet, Cristina is overjoyed that the Royal Navy That Has No Aircraft Carrier* will also have no support from the US should she convince Argentina’s military to conquer the oil deposits under the Falklands. We shall see.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a.k.a. la argentina feliz http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a.k.a. la argentina feliz http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Cameron would have been much wiser to simply do the usual “Proud Fearless Lion Foot Dragging” that has been the trademark of UK foreign policy since the Suez debacle in 1956. We in the West understand that Maggie is gone, and that the UK won’t even do much of anything about the UK in the near future, let alone Syria or any place further from London than Brighton Beach. Cameron gained nothing by publicly declaring that he would not help Obama and the US. In fact, in what is being celebrated by many in the UK as a landmark moment of British tenacity and independence in foreign policy, Cameron managed to suffer damage from the Syrian war without actually showing up in Syria. Slick move, Sherlock.

In response to Cameron’s stupidity, France’s President Françoise Hollande took the opportunity to announce that France would join in military intervention in Syria. In the US, it was announced as a “France backs the US” political victory for Obama. Take note, Cameron. If you are going to profit by vague promises, this is how you do it. The US is now considering officially changing back the name “Freedom Fries” to “French Fries.” Tears of joy are flowing in Paris, and a few folks in DC are willing to pretend that it’s something other than the usual over-imbibing of wine by Parisians.

Precisely how far the US or other Western nations will go in Syria is still unclear. What is more obvious is that creating a Syria run by Syrians will be far more difficult than toppling Assad. The world’s response to Syria has created much dark comedy and inspiration for journalists and other fiction writers, but the children of Syria have little reason to join in the laughter. Their predicament is yet another reminder of how far the world community remains from operating anything like a useful “United Nations.” The children of Syria have our prayers, but they’d likely prefer to have a real country to live in and a future to contemplate. Whatever action the US takes, we must be careful that it helps the Syrian people by damaging the Assad regime without accidentally helping al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

Syrian refugee in Turkey, image from Voice of America

Syrian refugee in Turkey,
image from Voice of America

*The UK’s Royal Navy currently has no functioning aircraft carriers, and it is completely dependent on the US Navy for air support at sea. Perhaps someone should mention that to Prime Minister Cameron.