The group revealed that over the past year, China had set up dozens of overseas “service stations” in order to police Chinese nationals living abroad, including three such facilities in Toronto.
According to the report, Beijing has been attempting to “combat the growing issue of fraud and telecommunication fraud by Chinese nationals living abroad,” with 230,000 being “persuaded to return” to China to face criminal charges between April 2021 and July 2022 alone.
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,” which are operated by either the Fuzhou or Qingtian Public Security Bureaus.
According to the report, as of September 2022, there are fifty-four such stations located in thirty countries.
While most nations have only one or two stations, Canada is unique in that it has three, all located in Toronto.
According to the National Post, 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, however not many are convinced, given the regime’s record.
Safeguard Defenders pointed out in their report that while China’s actions were taken under the guise of fighting crime, in some cases citizens living overseas who had not been charged with anything were harassed, and eventually “persuaded” to return to China.
Charles Burton, who formerly served as a diplomat at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, warned that China was “extending the grip of its Orwellian police state into this country,” and slammed Canada’s national security agencies for their lack of action.
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