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Obama admin warns China about agents operating in U.S.

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has warned Beijing that its law enforcement personnel do not have permission to operate in the United States without notifying the proper authorities, according to a spokesperson.

Officials did not cite a particular case but U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner released a statement Sunday saying there are specific rules that foreign law enforcement agents must follow in order to work within the U.S., CBS News reported.

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"While we do not comment on specific cases, generally speaking, foreign law enforcement agents are not permitted to operate within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General," said Toner in the statement. "In regards to China, the United States and China regularly engage on law enforcement matters of mutual concern, including fugitives and anti-corruption, through the U.S.-China Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLG).

"We continue to emphasize to [People's Republic of China] officials that it is incumbent on them to provide U.S. officials with significant, clear, and convincing evidence to allow our law enforcement agencies to proceed with investigations, removals, and prosecutions of fugitives," said Toner.

The statement comes as The New York Times published a report Sunday evening that said Chinese law enforcement agents have come to the United States in a covert fashion to hunt down and bring back fugitives and conduct other law enforcement operations. The warning, the Times reported, was delivered to Chinese officials recently and demanded a stop to the activities such as using tough tactics to get fugitives to return to Chinese soil.

On Monday, China's state news agency, Xinhua, published a reaction to the New York Times story.

"In April 2015, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun in Beijing, and they agreed to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement," the agency wrote. "They agreed not to provide shelter for the other side's fugitives and would try to repatriate them in accordance with law. Specifically, Johnson also promised to actively support China's 'Sky Net' and 'Fox Hunt' operations, which aim to bring back corrupt officials. So the U.S. government's decision to force China's law enforcement stuff to leave the country obviously reveals that Washington lacks sincerity and has failed to translate its words into action."

It added that the U.S. "should... by no means become a safe haven for Chinese criminal suspects."

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