On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, the FBI arrested Litang Liang for allegedly acting as a foreign agent for the Chinese government without notice to the U.S. Attorney General and collecting information on Chinese dissidents and groups in the Boston area.
Liang allegedly shared information on Boston-based Chinese associations with pro-Taiwan affiliations with PRC officials. He also reportedly provided details about anti-PRC dissidents, including identifying a person involved in damaging PRC flags, sharing a video of a dissident at a Hong Kong solidarity march, and photographs of anti-PRC dissidents at the Boston Public Library.
Liang was Vice President of the New England Alliance for the Peaceful Reunification of China (APCU) Inc. and has allegedly acted as a foreign agent of the Chinese government since 2018.
Strike Source conducted an open-source intelligence investigation into Liang, revealing a more complete profile of the alleged Chinese spy.
In June 2017, Liang participated in a fundraiser hosted by the Huang Clan Association for former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
The Huang Clan Association is worth noting, as Liang and some leaders of the organization traveled to China in November 2018.
In August 2018, Tsinghua University’s Chinese Entrepreneur Research Center delegation visited Chinatown in Boston. The delegation, hosted by the alleged Chinese spy, was received at the Empire Garden restaurant in Boston and inspected Chinatown Main Street Inc, a nonprofit organization and management committee organization that also supports new immigrants, where Liang holds a director role.
In November 2018, Liang and leadership within the Huang Clan Association traveled to China, meeting members of the United Front Work Department, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party responsible for leading foreign influence operations.
A month before Liang’s overseas travel, he participated in a press conference at the Empire Garden restaurant about reports of vandalization of the Chinese five-star red flag.
The criminal complaint against Liang mentions sharing information about the individual he believed was responsible for the flag vandalization with a consular officer at the Chinese Consulate in New York City.
In February 2019, Liang and many other overseas Chinese leaders were invited to the Chinese Consulate in New York City.
The same month, Liang and other members of the Boston Chinese American Cultural Association met with former Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. Analysts note that while we could not identify any evidence of Liang trying to influence Theken, this was when he allegedly acted as a foreign agent for the Chinese government.
In August 2019, Liang participated in an anti-Hong Kong independence demonstration in Boston. Liang said to strongly oppose the Hong Kong independence movement.
In September 2019, Liang was once again in China, as part of a delegation to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China. The invitation for the event came from the United Front Work Department.
With the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the year was relatively uneventful for Liang, who raised money for COVID-19 relief in Hubei Province in China, and attended a New Year reception at the Chinese Consulate in New York City.
In November 2021, Liang participated in a five-hour online symposium on developing cross-strait relations across the Taiwan Strait. One of the symposium’s key speakers, Bian Zinchun, is the current Deputy Consul for the Chinese Consulate in Chicago.
Analysts also identified social media accounts for Liang. Liang has two Facebook profiles.
On both profiles, Liang is friends with a Michael Wong, who is listed as as advisor of Chinatown Main Street, Inc. Other than that, the Facebook profiles provided no helpful information about Liang.
Based on our research, Liang has been involved in the Massachusetts Chinese community since 2011, where he was listed as part of the team to help reorganize the charter for the organization.
Liang’s activities as an alleged foreign agent of the Chinese government match other behaviors and patterns of other Chinese nationals working on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. For example, Lu Jianwang, who was arrested by the FBI earlier this year for destroying evidence and helping operate a Chinese police outpost in NYC, also attended protests against Chinese activists who don’t support the views of the Chinese Communist Party. In fact, Jianwang was arrested several days after protesting the NYC visit of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
The Chinese government will continue to use the United Front Work Department to bolster its influence operations beyond its borders. Given the current high tensions between the United States and China, we assess that more Chinese nationals residing in the U.S. who hold allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party will collaborate in efforts to undermine and subvert the U.S. government and democratic institutions. Cases like Liang’s will become more common as Chinese dissidents in the United States actively oppose the Chinese Communist Party.