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World News | China’s hidden police stations overseas: New security threat

A representative image of the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force in Beijing. (Photo/Reuters)

New Delhi [India], March 21 (ANI): In September 2022, Spain-based human rights organization Safeguard reported for the first time that the Chinese Overseas Police Service (COPS) operates on five continents. Around 102 such sites are reportedly operating in 53 countries, according to Inside Over.

The COPS network was said to have been established in 2016 by the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB), namely in the cities of Fuzhou (Fujian Province), Qingtian and Wenzhou (Zhejiang Province), and Nantong (Jiangsu Province). They engage in information gathering, influence operations and repression against criminals, crooks and corrupt officials abroad, as well as political opponents and dissidents such as Tibetans, Uyghurs and anti-China voices.

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They often use local Chinese overseas home associations linked to the United Front Work Department (UFWD) to bring them back for further investigation. In an organizational reform in 2018, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) merged its Overseas Chinese Affairs Department into the United Front Work Department in an attempt to hire overseas Chinese as informants, Inside Over reported.

Overreach COPS are heterogeneous groups whose members vary from place to place, from ex-police officers to senior members of the diaspora without any special status. They work through informal venues such as local shops, restaurants, shopping malls or apartments, as well as through external representatives such as small law firms not affiliated with the Chinese embassy.

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COPS was originally intended to serve overseas Chinese, but amid the COVID pandemic and heightened anti-China sentiment, the PSB branched out, limiting fox hunting aimed at pressure and cajoling fugitives who “voluntarily” returned to China.

Public security bureaus first set up central-level stations in foreign cities, and then set up smaller stations in neighboring areas of that city. They are divided into “service stations” and “liaison stations”. The service station is larger, headed by an overseas Chinese leader loyal to the CCP, with more liaison stations and low-key operations. Some stations are also responsible for publicity and talent recruitment.

The modus operandi of such operations varies from country to country, and countries in Africa and South America, where China is powerful, such as Myanmar and Cambodia, rarely support such operations. Some countries in Africa viz. South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, etc., in Asia namely. Cambodia has already signed agreements with Serbia, Croatia, Romania and Italy to cooperate in such operations.

In fact, the US Congressional-Executive Committee on China (CECC) claims that Interpol is colluding with the Chinese in such operations as well. Likewise, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is used in such operations. As reported by Inside Over, the scalability suggests that these operations must be backed by China’s central government.

While China claims that providing administrative services to overseas Chinese and combating cross-border fraud are COPS motives, ulterior motives beyond intelligence gathering and policing include protecting Belt and Road infrastructure projects and imposing cultural and racial pressure on overseas Chinese diaspora. Impact, Inside Over reports.

COPS exists on five continents and is strongly opposed by many countries, mainly the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and South Korea. As a result, there are very few stations. Dublin (Ireland) and New York (USA) are closed.

Some of the steps taken by other governments include the European Parliament’s consideration of including the issue as an agenda item in bilateral talks with China, and a decision to set up a hotline to report threats related to the issue.

However, some developing countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Hungary and Nigeria chose to remain silent. The silence of some countries on the issue amid China’s economic and political influence may encourage other Chinese provinces, such as Guangdong, to set up similar police stations abroad.

Recently, China’s top legislature – the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) – proposed the Foreign Immunity Law (FSIL), which would define the criteria for determining when a foreign government is subject to Chinese law.

With the law, Beijing is considering allowing foreign governments to be prosecuted in Chinese courts. Now that so many foreign countries are taking countermeasures against COPS, China can use FSIL to advance its own actions, especially in those countries that are disadvantaged.

The international community must come together to strongly oppose such actions through widespread media attention and a strong stance. Beijing must be held accountable for intimidating its citizens beyond its jurisdiction and even beyond its borders. (Arnie)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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