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NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) — A candidate for Congress, an Army veteran, was targeted by Chinese intelligence, according to federal authorities.

The plot was revealed when a number of indictments were unsealed earlier this week. Yan Xiong, the man targeted, spoke exclusively with PIX 11 News.

“I love America, and I love the people of America,” Xiong said. Xiong’s passion and enthusiasm for life permeated the entire interview as he described his whirlwind of a life. “I was a Tiananmen Square student leader, a freedom fighter,” he said.

In 1989, Xiong was part of the infamous demonstration where students demanded democracy and free speech in China — it ended in a massacre. He survived, came to the United States as a refugee, joined the Army and became a chaplain. He recently launched a longshot primary challenge of Congressman Jerry Nadler. “I could win the election this year,” exclaimed the endlessly positive candidate.

According to the Justice Department indictment, the Chinese government thought he had a shot. Specifically, the intelligence agent QiMing Lin thought so.

The inducement said Lin contacted a local private investigator who began immediately cooperating with the FBI. Lin told the investigator: “…we don’t want him to be elected.” He offered money to dig into Xiong’s life looking for “affairs,” “sexual harassment” and “child porn.” Lin also suggested setting him up by seeing if he “goes for prostitution.” There was also the possibility of violence, suggesting they could “beat him” or hurt him in a “car accident.”

“When I heard of that I laughed,” said Xiong. “They used a stupid way [to come for me]. Ridiculous, I am a U.S. Army chaplain, very disciplined.”

Xiong found out about the plot as he got back from a trip to western Ukraine to pray with refugees. PIX 11 News asked him what we should make of China’s failure to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and their attempt to come after him so many years after Tiananmen Square. “[They need to] change their way of thinking. This is a ridiculous, stupid thing,” he said.

The Nadler campaign did not respond to PIX11 News’ request for comment.