On Closing China’s Secret Police Stations Overseas

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Few people could have missed the revelation from Safeguard Defenders that local Chinese police are running overseas police “service stations.” Over the past month, local media have been investigating the illegal centers, and more and more remarkable information is being revealed weekly.

The latest such revelation is the existence of additional stations in Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. Media outlets in the Netherlands have been able to pinpoint the police outposts “persuading” Chinese residents to return to China to face criminal charges. The illegal police stations circumvent normal legal channels and essentially carry out police work on foreign soil.

Prior to this, Safeguard Defenders had investigated the actions of the “service stations” in Spain and Serbia. However, finding people willing to speak is nearly impossible.

Despite that, China’s Foreign Ministry, in a response to Spanish media, has acknowledged engaging in these actions, blaming extraditions (the normal, lawful way to seek someone’s return), as “cumbersome” and saying that European countries sometimes deny its requests.

With growing attention to illegal Chinese police activity, governments are starting to respond. A committee in the Canadian Parliament is set to hold hearings on the matter, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are launching an investigation. In Spain, the Ministry of the Interior has launched an investigation. In Ireland, the government is requesting information from China (and, reportedly, the sign outside the Chinese police station in Dublin has “disappeared”).

In addition, it was reported on Oct. 26 that the Dutch Foreign Ministry is investigating the centers in order to determine appropriate action. The Foreign Ministry said it wasn’t informed about the centers via diplomatic channels, which makes them illegal. Further, the UK has announced the establishment of a “foreign agent’s registry,” to make such operations illegal if not properly registered with the British government.

By Peter Dahlin

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