A recent report confirms unauthorized Chinese police outposts remain operational in Germany despite promised shutdown by Chinese government.
German officials confirmed on May 15, 2023, that two unauthorized Chinese police outposts are still active in the country, despite Beijing’s earlier promise to close them down in February. These outposts, as revealed by a spokesperson from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, are not static offices but rather dynamic mobile facilities. Individuals, some of whom hold Chinese citizenship, carry out official duties on behalf of the Chinese regime.
The existence of these “overseas police stations” is part of a network of over 100 similar facilities operated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) worldwide, as reported by Safeguard Defenders, a Spain-based human rights group. Official announcements have confirmed the existence of these unofficial police centers in a wide range of countries, including but not limited to the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy, and Germany, totaling at least 53 nations.
Safeguard Defenders’ follow-up report in December 2022 highlighted that the Chinese regime utilizes these facilities to harass, threaten, intimidate, and coerce individuals into returning to China for persecution. The widespread presence of these outposts has prompted investigations by the German government and other European nations.
The German federal government explicitly stated that it does not tolerate the exercise of foreign state authority, and therefore, Chinese authorities have no executive powers within the Federal Republic of Germany. In October 2022, Berlin revealed the existence of at least two police stations across the country, one more than what was mentioned in Safeguard Defenders’ report, which only identified a unit in Frankfurt.
According to a government response to a written inquiry from a lawmaker in March, the Chinese police outposts in Germany are under the management of leaders within the Chinese diaspora and operate without permanent offices.
While the Chinese side claimed in February that these so-called service stations had been closed, German security authorities continue to believe that two overseas police stations remain active within the country.
Similar actions have been taken by officials in Ireland and the Netherlands, who have ordered the closure of similar police stations operating in their respective countries.
In the United States, criminal charges have been brought against individuals associated with these secret police units. Two men were arrested by the FBI in April for their alleged involvement in running the police station in New York City on behalf of the CCP. The individuals were charged with conspiring to act as agents of the CCP and obstructing justice. The charges highlighted the Chinese government’s violation of U.S. sovereignty and its attempts to intimidate Chinese dissidents living in the United States.
The ongoing operation of unauthorized Chinese police outposts in various countries, including Germany, underscores the concerns surrounding the activities of these facilities and the impact they have on the individuals targeted by the Chinese regime.
Another report published in December 2022 suggests unofficial Chinese “Police Stations” identified in Germany that explained the matter as below:
The German government has acknowledged the presence of two unofficial Chinese “police stations” within the country, as stated in a response to a written question from a member of parliament. The disclosure comes in the wake of a report by Spanish human rights group Safeguard Defenders, which identified over 100 such stations globally. These stations offer diplomatic services but are also believed to be involved in silencing Chinese dissidents residing in Europe.
Contrary to Safeguard Defenders’ report, which mentioned a single station in Frankfurt, the German government response suggests that the two stations operate on a person-by-person basis and are mobile in nature. No permanent offices have been established. The facilities are reportedly managed by private individuals from the Chinese diaspora. Five “area officers,” including one in Berlin, provide legal advice and administrative assistance to individuals of Chinese heritage.
The German government is engaging in communication with the Chinese embassy regarding this matter, and the foreign office has reportedly issued a note of protest. The interior ministry has stated that federal security authorities have been aware of these facilities for some time and are actively pursuing any leads.
As the situation unfolds, the German government and relevant authorities will continue to monitor the existence and activities of these unofficial Chinese “police stations” within the country.
International concern grew over Chinese “Police Service Stations” after a detailed Safeguard Defenders Report in November 2022 which explained the matter as below:
International concern is mounting over allegations of Chinese secret police operating “service stations” in various countries. Safeguard Defenders, a human rights group, has accused China of using these stations to coerce overseas Chinese nationals to return home and suppress dissent abroad. Several governments, including Germany and Chile, have initiated investigations, while the Netherlands and Ireland have already ordered the closure of such stations within their borders. It delved into the details of the allegations, international responses, and the broader implications of China’s alleged transnational policing efforts.
China’s Overseas “Service Stations”:
According to Safeguard Defenders, China has established 54 police service stations across 30 countries on five continents. While Beijing claims these stations provide essential services to Chinese citizens abroad, the human rights group argues that they are utilized to force emigrants to return to China to face criminal charges and silence dissent overseas. The service stations have raised concerns about potential violations of sovereignty and extraterritoriality.
International Investigations and Responses:
Governments in Europe and the Americas are taking the allegations seriously. The German Interior Ministry emphasized that foreign state power is not tolerated within its territory and stated its intention to investigate the claims. Similarly, France’s General Directorate for Internal Security is monitoring the situation. Chile has launched an investigation into a service station in Viña del Mar, and the United States is conducting a broader inquiry into China’s alleged transnational repression efforts.
Safeguard Defenders highlights the need for foreign governments to examine the larger context of China’s overseas policing as a method of transnational repression. The organization argues that Chinese state repression extends beyond borders, targeting dissidents and spreading fear among Chinese communities globally. The report urges governments to investigate China’s transnational repression tactics and networks, even in countries where no service stations have been identified. Safeguard Defenders calls for the establishment of reporting and protection mechanisms for vulnerable communities and coordination among like-minded countries.
Extent of the Network:
The Safeguard Defenders report identified 54 police stations, primarily established by two Chinese Public Security Bureaus from Qingtian County and Fuzhou. However, documents obtained from open sources suggest that multiple provinces in China have been involved in setting up similar operations, indicating a potentially larger network of stations. The Chinese government claims these stations assist overseas Chinese citizens with administrative matters, such as renewing driving licenses and receiving physical examinations. Safeguard Defenders rejects this explanation, pointing out that reports of these stations predate the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some European governments have responded swiftly to the allegations, other countries, including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cambodia, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Slovakia, and more, have yet to address the issue. Safeguard Defenders emphasizes the importance of comprehensive international responses to protect Chinese citizens and defend democracy.
The allegations of Chinese secret police operating “service stations” abroad have sparked international concern. Safeguard Defenders’ report has prompted investigations by various governments, reflecting the seriousness with which the issue is being taken. The implications of China’s alleged transnational policing efforts extend beyond the specific service stations, necessitating a broader examination of China’s transnational repression tactics and international coordination to safeguard human rights and democratic values.
China has not officially acknowledged running secret police outposts in other countries. However, there have been reports and allegations of Chinese intelligence activities and surveillance operations taking place in foreign nations.
China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) is responsible for conducting intelligence operations abroad. It is believed that the MSS operates a network of intelligence officers and informants in various countries to gather information, monitor dissident activities, and protect Chinese interests.
Some reports have suggested that China’s intelligence activities extend beyond traditional espionage and involve monitoring and influencing overseas Chinese communities, dissidents, human rights activists, and other individuals or groups deemed a threat to Chinese interests.
While specific details may be limited, it is widely acknowledged that various countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and European nations, have expressed concerns about Chinese intelligence activities and have taken measures to counter potential threats.
It’s important to note that information on intelligence operations is often sensitive and not publicly disclosed, making it challenging to obtain comprehensive and verified information about such activities.
- Overseas Chinese Communities: China has a large diaspora community living in different countries. Reports suggest that Chinese intelligence agencies monitor and influence these communities to maintain control, gather information, and suppress dissent. This can involve pressuring individuals to provide information, monitoring their activities, and engaging in influence operations.
- Monitoring Dissidents and Activists: Chinese intelligence agencies are known to track and target dissidents, human rights activists, and political opponents living abroad. They may use various means, including surveillance, cyber espionage, and harassment, to monitor and suppress their activities.
- Cyber Espionage: China has been accused of engaging in extensive cyber espionage activities targeting foreign governments, businesses, and organizations. These operations are believed to be carried out by Chinese state-sponsored hacking groups, with the aim of stealing sensitive information, intellectual property, and technology.
- Influence Operations: China has been accused of conducting influence operations to shape public opinion and advance its interests in foreign countries. These operations may involve spreading disinformation, influencing media outlets, conducting propaganda campaigns, and utilizing economic leverage to sway decision-making processes.
It’s important to note that these activities are often conducted covertly, and specific details are challenging to obtain due to the secretive nature of intelligence operations. Governments and intelligence agencies typically do not disclose sensitive information publicly, making it difficult to provide comprehensive and verified details.
Some additional insights and analysis based on known patterns and reports:
- United States: The U.S. government has repeatedly accused China of engaging in cyber espionage and intellectual property theft. Chinese hacking groups, allegedly tied to state entities, have targeted U.S. government agencies, defense contractors, technology companies, and research institutions. China’s intelligence operations in the U.S. also reportedly focus on monitoring and influencing Chinese dissident communities.
- Australia: There have been numerous reports of Chinese intelligence activities in Australia, particularly regarding attempts to influence and control political processes and monitor Chinese communities. Chinese agents are believed to engage in cyber espionage, conduct influence campaigns, and use economic leverage to advance Chinese interests.
- Canada: Chinese intelligence activities in Canada have come under scrutiny, especially in the context of the arrest of Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, in 2018. The incident shed light on alleged connections between Chinese companies, intelligence operations, and cyber espionage.
- Europe: European countries have expressed concerns about Chinese intelligence activities, particularly with regard to economic espionage, technology theft, and influence operations. Reports suggest that Chinese intelligence agencies target European governments, businesses, and research institutions to acquire advanced technology and gain economic advantages.
- Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Countries: China’s BRI, which aims to enhance economic and political ties with participating nations, has raised concerns about potential intelligence activities. Critics argue that Chinese investment and infrastructure projects may serve as cover for intelligence gathering and influence operations.
It’s worth noting that while reports and allegations of Chinese intelligence activities exist, it is important to approach such information with caution. The secretive nature of intelligence operations often means that comprehensive and verified details are challenging to obtain. Assessing the scope and impact of these activities requires a careful analysis of available information and intelligence assessments from relevant government agencies.
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