Chinese “police stations” all over the world
, Marie Christine Trottier and Yves Levesque MISE À DAY
OTTAWA | The two clandestine “Chinese police stations” under the scrutiny of the RCMP in Montreal are not the only ones in the country and even less in the world. The Spanish NGO Safeguard Defenders has listed 102 in 53 countries. What are they used for, how do they work and why should you be concerned about them? Overview.
How long have they been in operation?
Most police stations documented by Safeguard Defenders started their activities in 2016 and have since multiplied rapidly, mainly in democratic countries.
The Chinese Overseas Affairs Commission, however, was active long before the first police stations appeared. Mehmet Tohti, the director of the Project for the Defense of the Rights of the Uyghurs, a persecuted Chinese religious minority, indeed began to receive threats from agents of this office at his home in suburban Toronto in the early 2000s.
What are they for?
They actually offer services to the diaspora, such as issuing official documents, or organizing cultural events. Most therefore have neither uniformed officers nor cells. However, Beijing officially indicates that their mission is to incite suspected Chinese criminals in the diaspora to surrender to Chinese justice.
But these alleged “criminals”, targeted without evidence and punished without trial, are very often dissidents or people who have fled ethnic and religious persecution in China, says Safeguard Defenders. We are talking in particular about Uyghurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, or Taiwanese.
In April 2022, Beijing claimed that thanks to its operations abroad, it had arrested 634,000 “suspects in 2021.
Why should we worry?
One of the problems is that they circumvent local laws to impose on people of Chinese origin those which are current in China. They are also springboards for the Department of United Front Work, an organization that Beijing uses “to stifle criticism and infiltrate foreign political parties, diasporas, universities and multinational corporations,” says Public Safety Canada. < /p>
That is precisely what the Canadian Intelligence and Security Service has documented, according to documents obtained in recent weeks by The Globe and Mail and Global News.< /p>
Is Canada's response adequate?
For Laura Harth, Campaign Director of Safeguard Defenders, Canada's response “has been one of the best views in the world”.
In an interview with Radio-Canada, she hailed the strong condemnation and interference and intimidation operations, RCMP investigations and the hotline set up for Chinese victims of transnational repression.
Prime Minister Trudeau has been a one of the rare leaders to raise the problem with his Chinese counterpart at the G20 summit in Bali last fall, even if it meant suffering his public remonstrances. Conversely, elsewhere in the world, such as Italy, some governments are collaborating with China, letting it multiply its police stations.
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