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EDITORIAL | Root Out All Chinese Police Stations Overseas

There are reportedly covert Chinese police stations in some 50 countries. They spy on Chinese citizens and violate the sovereignty of those countries.

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Chinese police stations
The former office of the America ChangLe Association is described by US authorities as a Chinese 'secret police station' masquerading as a social gathering place for people from China's Fujian province. It is on the fourth floor of the Royal East Plaza building at 107 East Broadway in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York City. April 17, 2023. (© REUTERS/Bing Guan)

Beijing has clandestinely created its own Chinese police stations in foreign countries to control and threaten Chinese nationals. This clearly violates international law and infringes on the sovereignty of the countries in which they have been established. 

Such conduct is totally unacceptable. 

Chinese police stations
Lu Jianwang, 61, is a US citizen charged with conspiring to act as an agent of the Chinese government by helping set up a Chinese "secret police station" in New York. Meanwhile, Lu and his attorney Deidre von Dornum exit Brooklyn federal court after Lu posted bond in New York City. April 17, 2023. (© REUTERS/Bing Guan)

Uncovering the Illegal Operations

The United States Department of Justice recently announced the arrest of two US citizens of Chinese ancestry for their role. They established and operated an unofficial Chinese police station in the heart of New York City at the behest of China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

This was the first reported crackdown on China's overseas underground police anywhere in the world. 

However, it was also recently learned that in late March the South Korean police identified alleged violations of food and sanitation laws by the owners of a certain Chinese restaurant in Seoul. That establishment was also suspected of being a Chinese undercover police base. 

In the autumn of 2022, the US justice department raided and shut down an undercover police station in New York's Chinatown. It was run by China's domestic security agency, the MPS. The Netherlands, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Germany have also ordered closures of similar operations. Those are the proper responses for any sovereign nation to take.

The two men taken into custody in New York are suspected of acting on orders from the MPS. They reportedly monitored Chinese residents in the US who had been critical of the Chinese government, pressuring them to return to China. 

Reports say these men also assisted Chinese authorities in locating democracy activists in the US. This is a flagrant example of how the Chinese government has been seeking to extend its repression at home to foreign countries.

secret Chinese police stations
A Chinese overseas police station was reportedly operating without the knowledge of the Hungary's Interior Ministry, in Budapest. October 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

China's Disingenuous Denial

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has blithely denied that there could be any Chinese police presence overseas. It has offered the disingenuous explanation that the facility in question simply managed some administrative services for Chinese citizens residing in the US, including renewal of driver licenses. 

But even such "administrative services" would be an issue. Accordingly, they would be a blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The convention thus forbids the conduct of consular business in any form whatsoever within the United States without the consent of the host government.

Safeguard Defenders, a Spain-based human rights NGO, has documented how China is carrying out covert police operations in at least 102 locations in 50 nations. It says that roughly 11,000 Chinese citizens have been coerced into returning to China. Moreover, they are pressured through harassment and even detainment by these shadow police. 

Chinese police stations Akihabara
Akihabara, pictured in this streetview, is also where anime and manga devotees gather. Moreover, it is one of Japan's tourist hotspots.

Illegal Chinese Police in Japan

One of these dark police stations is said to exist in the Akihabara district in Tokyo.

Moreover, it is strongly suspected that the MPS is operating illegally within Japan's borders. The Japanese government has told China that if it is infringing on its sovereignty, such conduct would not be acceptable. But this does not constitute an actual protest. 

Why doesn't the Japanese government expose the "dark police stations" and order them to be shut down? It would be pathetic if Japan were to allow itself to be intimidated by Beijing

Extensive interviews with Chinese nationals living in Japan should also be conducted to understand what is really happening.

This is a matter of great importance in terms of Japan's sovereignty. If China is taking advantage of Tokyo's lack of an anti-spying law, that would be even more of a problem. 

The Kishida administration also must follow the examples of the West and South Korea and root out China's secret police.

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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun