China has allegedly set up more than 100 police stations worldwide to spy on, harass, and even repatriate Chinese citizens living in exile, with the help of other nations.
In a CNN report citing NGO Safeguard Defenders, it was gathered that China has been operating 48 additional police stations abroad since the group first revealed 54 stations in September.
Beijing has denied running such operations, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs telling CNN in November that ‘using this as a pretext to smear China is unacceptable.’
It was claimed that the facilities are actually administrative hubs to help Chinese expatriates with tasks like renewing their driver’s licenses. The offices were also used to help during the Covid-19 pandemic when many citizens were locked down in other countries and unable to renew their documentation.
The new report – ‘Patrol and Persuade’ – focuses on the scale of the network and examines the role that joint policing initiatives between China and several European nations, including Italy, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania, CNN reported.
It claimed that China had signed police patrol agreements with several nations between 2015 and 2019.
Italian police conducted multiple joint patrols with Chinese police between 2016 and 2018 in cities including Rome, Milan, and Naples, according to the Safeguard Defenders report.
It was also reported that Italy has hosted 11 Chinese police stations, including in Venice and in Prato, near Florence.
The report has prompted investigations in at least 13 different countries so far. Ireland has shut down the Chinese police station found on its territory, CNN reported. And there are probes underway in the Netherlands and Spain.
Another new claim made in the report is that a Chinese citizen was coerced into returning home by officials working undercover in a Chinese overseas police station outside of Paris, along with two other Chinese exiles who had been forcibly returned from Europe – one in Serbia, the other in Spain.