Schumer under fire for attending event with alleged Chinese spy

What happened?

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, is receiving criticism for his association with a guy who is alleged to be in charge of a clandestine Chinese police station in New York City. The individual, Shau Zhang Lin, was detained by the FBI last week and accused of working as a foreign government agent without informing the attorney general.

Schumer under fire for attending event with alleged Chinese spy

The criminal complaint claims that Lin ran a “China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture” in Flushing, Queens, which served as a front for Chinese government operations to track out and persecute Tibetan activists and dissidents living in the US. According to reports, Lin hired and paid informants to snoop on the Tibetan community and send back information to Beijing.

Schumer joined Lin and other guests for a photo at a Lunar New Year party held by Lin’s association in February. After Lin’s arrest, the image that had been displayed on the association’s website was taken down. According to Schumer’s office, he had no more communication with Lin and was ignorant of his activities.

How did people react?

Schumer’s political rivals and detractors, meanwhile, have pounced on the image as proof of his close friendship with China and his lack of discernment. Republican senator from Texas Ted Cruz tweeted that Schumer “should be ashamed” and demanded that his connections to Lin be looked into. Republican New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis argued that Schumer “owes New Yorkers an explanation” and questioned his suitability to serve as Senate president.

Schumer’s followers and fans, meanwhile, have backed him and dismissed the photo as a coincidence. Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York who was also there at the party, claimed she did not personally know Lin and that he was just one of the several attendees. She claimed Schumer was a “strong supporter” of China’s human rights record and the Tibetan cause. The majority whip for the Senate, Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, asserted that he believed in Schumer’s honesty and that he was not involved in any misconduct.

Although Schumer hasn’t addressed the claims or the image directly, his office has released a statement in which it claims that he “condemns Mr. Lin’s alleged actions in the strongest possible terms” and that he “stands with the Tibetan community against China’s attempts to silence them.”

Why does it matter?

Concerns have been raised by the article regarding Schumer’s leadership and reputation as the leader of the Senate as well as China’s influence and meddling in US politics and society. Additionally, it happens at a time when tensions between the United States and China are high on matters including trade, human rights, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the coronavirus outbreak.

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