Chinese 'police service centers' surveilling nationals across USA, Europe and Canada

There were 32 stations at the time of the report's publication. Another 22 stations have been launched in 22 new cities across 17 countries.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set up unofficial police "service stations" not just in Toronto, Ontario, but in other major cities across dozens of countries, an investigative report has found.

The report states that the operations “eschew official bilateral police and judicial cooperation” and display the rise of “transnational repression” and “long-arm policing” by the CCP in other countries as China now appears to be monitoring international dissidents. 

The “110 Overseas: Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild” report was published in September by the Spain-based human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders. The report states that 30 Chinese surveillance stations were established in 25 cities across 21 countries at the start of 2022.

The surveillance stations are under the jurisdiction of the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau in Fujian Province, which falls under the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. They also go by "110 overseas," named after the Chinese phone number for emergency services, 110.

The investigation, which is 20 pages in length, contains five "major" revelations.

The report revealed that between April 2021 and July 2022, Chinese police had "persuaded" 230,000 claimed fugitives to return to China "voluntarily," with the report stating officials admitted that "not all the targets have committed any crimes."

The country's police also established "Nine forbidden countries, where Chinese nationals are no longer allowed to live unless they have 'good reason,'" according to the report.

The investigation also revealed that new tools for "'persuasion operations" were created, "including denying the target’s children in China the right to education, and other limitations on family members, punishing those without suspicion of any wrongdoing by 'guilt by association,'" a pracitice similar to those in North Korea. Family members that don't help Chinese police "persuade" their targets overseas "should be investigated and punished by either police or the internal Party police the CCDI"

The country has established at least 54 police-run "overseas police service centers" across five continents, "some of which are implicated in collaborating with Chinese police in carrying out policing operations on foreign soil (including in Spain)," the report states.

The investigation also discovered a new law, adopted September 2 and going into effect on December 1, which establishes "full extraterritoriality over Chinese and foreigners globally for certain crimes (fraud, telecom fraud, online scams, etc.)."

There were 32 stations at the time of the report's publication. Another 22 stations have been launched in 22 new cities across 17 countries under the jurisdiction in Qingtian County, Zhejiang Province and "one can assume the list of such stations goes far beyond what can be presented here," the report said.

The investigation also states that "230,000 Chinese nationals were returned to face potential criminal charges in China through these methods, which often include threats and harassment to family members back home or directly to the target abroad either through online or physical means."

On September 2, a new law was passed in China giving the government more authority when it comes to handling online fraud committed by Chinese citizens overseas. It is set to come into effect on December 1.  One way the government keeps tabs on citizens in other countries is via the aforementioned “service stations."

The National Post reports that the locations of Toronto’s stations render them nearly invisible to the public. One is listed as a private home, the second a largely Chinese mall, and the third in the office of a Chinese non-profit.  

China has defended the practice of setting up what are essentially police stations in other countries, saying that the majority of the work done there is akin to what would take place at an embassy.

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