Reports of Chinese covert police stations in operation in the UK are “very concerning” and will be treated as such, says the government. A civil liberties group has accused the Chinese Communist Party of having a global network of outposts, which are being used to “silence dissenters and force them to return home”.
Possible stations have been located in London and Glasgow after addresses were published by Chinese police agencies in the Fuzhou and Qingtian counties.
The Times reported it had seen a document from the Fuzhou City Public Security Bureau which listed 54 international stations.
Safeguard Defenders, a human rights organizations based in Madrid, claimed these “overseas service centers” can be found in 30 countries worldwide, with the highest concentration in Europe.
Beijing has excused the existence of these centers, stating that they help to fight “transnational fraud” by Chinese expats and to provide diplomatic assistance such as the renewal of driving licenses.
Chinese officials said 230,000 fraud suspects were “persuaded to return” to China from April 2021 to July 2022.
Among those locations listed as being in the UK include a Chinese restaurant, a fast-food delivery outlet and an estate agents.
Safeguard Defenders said the stations were probably “merely a phone number or front” which Chinese officials use to “manage applications of drivers’ licenses and birth certificates”, while also pressuring dissidents to travel back to China.
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A British Government spokesperson said the claims were “very concerning”.
They added: “Any foreign country operating on UK soil must abide by UK law.
“The protection of people in the UK is of the utmost importance and any attempt to illegally repatriate any individual will not be tolerated.”