Beijing’s law enforcement tactics beyond its borders are being put under scrutiny after a report revealed dozens of cities – including New York – were home to Chinese police stations overseas.
A pilot program conducted by the public security bureaus of Fuzhou and Qingtian counties — coastal Fujian and Zhejiang provinces respectively — had set up 54 “overseas police service centers” in five continents, 25 cities and 21 countries by June 21, according to Spain -based NGO Safeguard Defenders.
The overseas offices were created in the name of fighting cross-border crime, particularly telecommunications fraud, which has already resulted in the arrests of large numbers of Chinese nationals living abroad. Their stated responsibilities also include providing administrative services, such as renewing Chinese driver’s licenses, the report said.
Safeguard Defenders said China’s police tactics are problematic because they target suspects without making clear links to crime or following due process in host countries, mainly by coercing family members of suspected fugitives to “persuade” them on return on your own.
Between April 2021 and July 2022, Chinese authorities detained 230,000 suspects in this way, most of them from Southeast Asia, the NGO said.
In which United States, the report’s open-source data points to one such service center in New York City. in the Canadathree were founded in Toronto.
In South America there was one each in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador; Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Vina del Mar, Chile.
Most Chinese overseas police stations were in Europe, including nine in Spainmost of any country on the list: three in Madrid, three in Barcelona, two in Valencia and one in Santiago de Compostela.
Italy with four stations the second most in Europe: Rome, Milan, Florence and Prato.
in the Francethree service centers operated from Paris. Portugal also held one each in Porto, Lisbon and Madeira. in the United Kingdomthe report found two in London and one in Glasgow.
The Netherlands hosted two such centers in Amsterdam and Rotterdam respectively, while the Czech Republic had two in Prague. budapest, Hungaryalso had two, one for each of the Fuzhou and Qingtian police offices – a common phenomenon across Europe.
European countries hosting only one Chinese police station each were Dublin, Ireland; pressburg, Slovakia; Frankfurt, Germany; Athens, Greece; Stockholm, Sweden; Vienna, Austria; odessa, Ukraine; and Belgrade, Serbia.
In Africa, Benin City, Nigeria; maseru, Lesotho; and Dar es Salaam, Tanzaniaeveryone hosted one.
In Asia, at least one police center operated from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; sirdaryo, Uzbekistan; Bandar Seri Begawan, brunei; Tokyo, Japan; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Safeguard Defenders September report, 110 overseassaid the open-source figures represent an incomplete list of activities related only to the two police departments, and likely many more are related to police forces in other major Chinese cities.
The overseas stations are often embedded in associations of the overseas Chinese community, the report said. The number 110 dials the police in China.
A more worrisome factor in Chinese police operations on foreign soil, however, is Beijing’s attack on political dissidents and others, who are likely to be persecuted once they are “persuaded” to return home, the NGO said.
“Persuasion to return” allows authorities to skip legal protocols such as protecting the target’s right to a fair trial, it said.
“These operations avoid official bilateral police and judicial cooperation and violate the international rule of law and may violate the territorial integrity of third countries involved in setting up a parallel police mechanism using illegal methods,” the report said.
“Give up any pretense of due process or consideration of suspects’ innocence pending proof of guilt, target the children and relatives of suspects in China as ‘guilty by association’ or ‘collateral damage,’ and use threats and intimidation to intimidate suspects targeting abroad is now becoming an endemic problem itself,” it said.
“Whether the targets are dissidents, corrupt officials, or petty criminals, the problem remains the same: the use of irregular methods — often a combination of carrot and stick — against the victim or their family members in China undermines due process and most fundamental rights of suspects,” concluded Safeguard Defenders.
Early October, Spanish newspaper El Correo confirmed some of the NGO’s concerns, quoting an unnamed Chinese diplomat as saying: “The bilateral deals are very cumbersome and Europe is reluctant to extradite to China.
In January, in response to another Safeguard Defenders report, China’s foreign ministry said, “China’s judiciary and law enforcement agencies strictly adhere to international rules and fully respect the judicial sovereignty of other countries.”
A spokesman said the NGO’s findings were “full of speculation and lies”.
A group of House Republicans expressed their “serious concern” about the report in a letter Oct. 7, addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“It is deeply troubling that the Chinese government could use these gas stations as their extended arm police abroad,” they said.
The service centers are “allegedly forcing overseas Chinese refugees to return to China to face a judicial process,” the letter said. “By doing so, China avoids a review of its human rights record in relation to the overseas repatriation of suspected refugees by forgoing formal international cooperation mechanisms.”
Specifically, at the New York City branch, congressmen sought answers to questions including whether the State Department or the Justice Department had authorized the police presence.
“There should be no room for the Chinese government to unilaterally exercise extraterritorial law enforcement on US soil,” they said.
The State Department and the office of New York Mayor Eric Adams did not return news week‘s request for comment prior to publication.
https://www.newsweek.com/china-overseas-police-service-center-new-york-city-crime-1753242 China has opened secret police stations in these countries