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FBI Seeks Chinatown Informers

Copyright 1971 by the Harvard Crimson

By Garrett Epps

A leaflet, written in Chinese and asking newly arrived Chinese immigrants to inform the FBI of any "subversive activities," has been circulating in Boston's Chinatown during the last month.

Ralph Rampton, assistant special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, yesterday verified that the Bureau was "aware" of the leaflet and that the FBI considered it a fully legitimate activity.

The leaflet has been found posted on a community bulletin board in Chinatown. A spot check by a Crimson reporter yesterday turned up another copy posted in a Chinese bookstore located near the intersection of Beach and Hudson Sts., in the heart of Chinatown.

The leaflet--translated by E. Perry Link, teaching fellow in Chinese who is active in the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS) and another member of CCAS--says in part:

"Now that you have settled in America, you are not only entitled to enjoy the various blessings of America's free political system but in addition will be able to shoulder the responsibilities of protecting these free traditions."

"...If while in America you become aware of communists or Maoist spies who are engaged in intelligence work or destructive or subversive activities, you are urgently requested to telephone the local branch of the FBI at once."

The leaflet lists as the local FBI telephone number 535-7700--the number of the FBI office in New York City. However, on the leaflets distributed in Boston, the number has been penciled out and a stamp gives the number 742-5533--the number of the Boston office of the FBI.

The leaflet is signed "Hoover, Director, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation."

A call to the Boston office placed yesterday from the Crimson by a student who said he wanted to give information after having read the leaflet was put through to an agent who identified himself as Special Agent Benson. In response to the question, Benson said:

"I don't handle that matter. There is a gentleman here who speaks Chinese." Benson added that the Chinese-speaking employee was not in the office, and offered to have him call back. He declined to give the employee's name.

Bernard McCabe, a supervisor in the Boston FBI office, said yesterday that he did not know of the leaflet. However, he referred the question to Rampton.

Asked about the leaflet, Rampton said, "Yes, we're aware of it, and it is nothing objectionable." He added, "I just want to reiterate to you that you should be aware of our responsibility with regard to the situation of Chinese immigrants in this country."

Rampton declined to confirm that the Boston office had a Chinese-speaking employee on its staff to take calls from readers of the leaflet. "We understand these problems," he said. He also refused to comment about whether the New York office was using the same leaflet, or if the FBI office in San Francisco--which also has a sizable Chinese community--was using a similar leaflet.

Craig C. Lollin, an FBI special agent and assistant supervisor of the FBI's New York office, refused to comment on the leaflet yesterday. "We can't make any comment to you concerning our investigative techniques and our activities in the Chinese field," he said. He added, however, that the message of the leaflet "would be good advice for anyone, because we have jurisdiction in that area (investigating subversive activities)."

An observer familiar with the life of Boston's Chinese community yesterday said that the leaflet was widely-known in Chinatown. "It does sort of keep people on their toes," she said, adding. "There are a lot of people with immigration problems, and this makes them aware that political investigations could get them in trouble with immigration. It makes them shy away from politics."

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, in a widely-reprinted article written for the June, 1971 issue of Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine, warned that "the shadows of pro-Peking subversion are daily becoming a more serious problem in this country."

The article said that the People's Republic of China is attempting to "introduce deep cover intelligence agents into the United States, trained Peking agents who clandestinely enter this country using false identities and identifications and attempt under the cover of being an American to conduct spy operations."

"Penetration of Chinese ethnic groups is also tried," he wrote. "The over-whelming majority of Chinese Americans are loyal to this country, and only a very small percentage are loyal to Peking."

Troubles

Hoover had originally planned to conduct a wider distribution of pamphlet-style reprints of this article. After President Nixon announced his plans to travel to the People's Republic, however, the plans were dropped for "budgetary reasons," Hoover said.

Below is the full test of the FBI leaflet, as translated by E. Perry Link and another member of CCAS:

Announcement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States:

Now that you have settled in America, you are not only entitled to enjoy the various blessings of America's free political system, but in addition will be able to shoulder the responsibilities of protecting these free traditions.

Since you have personally experienced the suffering and bondage which is perpetrated by tyrannical communist rule, you must by now certainly be able to realize in a profound way how valuable freedom is and how terrifying and detestable communism is.

Communists frequently engage in secret activities within America's borders and plot to destroy the free traditions of America, and while our bureau is on constant alert and pays close attention to these matters, from now on you too may join in our defense against communism. We hope you will note the following:

1. If while in America you become aware of communists or Maoist spies who are engaged in intelligence work or destructive and subversive activities, you are urgently requested to telephone the local branch of the FBI at once. (The telephone number will be clearly listed in the first two or three pages of the regular telephone directory of any city.)

2. You are requested to make your report based on hard facts known to you: do not become confused by hearsay.

3. It will suffice for you simply to report what you know; do not carry out your own investigations. You must realize that investigation is a specialized and sophisticated profession, and if ordinary people attempt it they not only risk their own safety but also risk startling the snake from his hiding.

Should you have anything to communicate, please inform the local branch of this bureau immediately. Local branch telephone: 742-5533.--(J. Edgar) Hoover Director, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation

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