Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra is demanding two illegal Chinese Communist Party police stations accused of stalking Chinese political opponents in the country for at least the last four years to be shut down immediately.
“We asked the Chinese ambassador yesterday for a text and explanation,” Hoekstra boldly stated, according to Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws. “This kind of practice is unacceptable, it is crystal clear that this kind of activity is unacceptable,” he added.
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“We still have to find out what exactly took place at the agencies,” Hoekstra continued. “In any case, it was about consular matters, you have permission to ask the host country for that. In this case, the Netherlands, and that did not happen. That in itself is a reason enough for these bureaus to be closed immediately.”
NGO sounds the alarm
The case gained national attention after RTL Nieuws and the investigative platform Follow the Money verified a report released in September by Safeguard Defenders, a Spain-based human rights organization.
The report, titled 110 Overseas: Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild, speaks about Chinese authorities opening tens of police bureaus on five continents worldwide to fight alleged “fraud” committed by overseas Chinese nationals while “carrying out policing operations on foreign soil.”
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According to the report, at least 36 non-registered “service stations” had been set up in Europe. The stations are proclaimed to offer public services to Chinese nationals like physical examinations and renewing their driver’s licenses.
Thousands of Chinese living in the Netherlands found their way to the offices, with an NGO pointing out dozens of such locations, yet the Dutch government claims to have been totally oblivious to their existence.
However, the stations are also notorious for their efforts to nudge some 23,000 expats that were registered as fraudsters to “voluntarily” return to the mainland to face trial under the Communist Party’s disciplinary system, often after coercion in the form of mainland intelligence agents harassing their close family members or locking them up in prison.
A long term strategy
According to Safeguard Defenders, the first station in the Netherlands was opened in Amsterdam in 2018 as a branch of the Lishui Region Police Department. The Department operates at least 46 stations worldwide, the study said.
Another Police force, that of Fuzhou City, also opened a foothold in Holland in a very low-profile residence in Rotterdam without a sign on the door.
The Fuzhou department also boasts at least 30 stations in 21 countries, including New York, Ontario, Dublin, and Barcelona, RTL noted.
In a promotional video, the agency admits their activities are not just centered around civil services, as they are also used to “crack down on local and illegal criminal activities in Fuzhou involving overseas Chinese.”
And of course, we have been seeing Chinese police officers patrolling the streets of Italy a few years ago.
This initiative was reportedly claimed to give Chinese tourists a sense of comfort, that of being watched over by Communist Party enforcement agents in their traditional uniforms.
“These operations eschew official bilateral police and judicial cooperation and violate the international rule of law, and may violate the territorial integrity in third countries involved in setting up a parallel policing mechanism using illegal methods,” Safeguard Defenders, commented.
However, according to EuroNews, the Chinese government stated the allegations made by Safeguard Defenders were “completely false.”
Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin, however, stated on Oct. 26 that the police stations overseas “are actually service stations for Chinese citizens abroad,” claiming that the posts fully respected other countries’ judicial sovereignty.
“Chinese public security stations resolutely crackdown on various transnational criminal activities in accordance with the law, strictly abide by international law and fully respect the judicial sovereignty of other countries,” Wang boasted.
Meanwhile, authorities in Spain and Ireland have also ordered investigations into the infamous police stations, so much so that the Irish government last week ordered the station in Dublin to be closed.
Also, on Sept. 2, the ruling Communist Party launched a “Anti-Telecom and Online Fraud Law” that claimed international jurisdiction over all Chinese nationals abroad in case of suspicious behavior.
With the influence of various Party security agencies operating in several countries worldwide going about unhampered, it will be increasingly difficult for Chinese expats who are at odds with the regime to stay out of range of the long arm of its enforcement apparatus.