China has set up dozens of unofficial police stations around the world. According to Safeguard Defenders, “persuasion to return” is an important technique of the Chinese regime’s “involuntary returns” activities, which include “Operation Fox Hunt” and the broader “Sky Net” campaign.
According to a report released in September by the human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has created scores of unofficial police stations throughout the globe, including at least three in Toronto, Canada.
According to the report, China has already been participating in “long-arm policing” around the globe through what has been nicknamed the “110 overseas police stations,” named after China’s police emergency number, 110.
The Fuzhou Public Security Bureau in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, and the Qingtian County police in Zhejiang Province are two local-level police agencies in China that have control over 54 Chinese abroad police stations spread over 30 nations.
Peter Dahlin, the founder and director of Safeguard Defender and a co-author of the report, claims that after the conclusions of his organization were made public, security police or related government organizations from North America and Europe contacted his company to “sit down and have a briefing discussion” on the Chinese operations abroad.
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“So they are certainly aware of it, at least in some countries,” Dahlin told The Epoch Times.
However, the report noted that between April 2021 and July 2022, these police stations were used to “persuade” up to 230,000 Chinese nationals to “voluntarily” revert back to China in order to face criminal charges, despite the Chinese authorities’ claims that they were established in order to better serve their overseas citizens.
According to Safeguard Defenders, “persuasion to return” is an important technique of the Chinese regime’s “involuntary returns” activities, which include “Operation Fox Hunt” and the broader “Sky Net” campaign. Many of those persuaded to return were abroad Chinese reportedly implicated in telecommunications fraud, while the article stated that a number of non-suspects and their family members in China have also been harassed and threatened by police.
Dahlin believes that, in addition to the three stations in Toronto—two in Markham and one in Scarborough, the sites of which were revealed by a Chinese state media outlet—there are possibly other unofficial Chinese police stations in Canada that have yet to be uncovered.
“We’ve also seen a [Chinese] government notice that said that 10 different provinces should launch these types of operations on a pilot basis,” he told The Epoch Times, referring to a July 5, 2018, press release published by the Chinese regime cited in the story.
“So, we have two of these operations uncovered [in Fujian Province and Zhejiang Province]. There might be eight more provinces doing this that could have their own stations, and we have not been able to track down that information yet. That’s why we keep saying that … we believe and we have good reason to think that there are more [overseas Chinese police stations].”
The press release is in reference to the Chinese State Council’s 2018 “Work Plan for the Supervision of the National Special Struggle Against Gang Crimes.” According to Chinese state media, from July to September 2018, Beijing conducted a first-round one-month supervisory training across the ten provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Fujian, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Guangdong, Chongqing, and Sichuan.
Another report from that year, in April 2019, stated that the regime had concluded a second round of training for another 11 provinces, including Zhejiang Province, which is home to the Qingtian police department.
Given Vancouver’s substantial Chinese diaspora population, Dahlin stated that it would be “very strange” if the city did not have at least one 110 police station.
According to Safeguard Defenders, its continued monitoring of China’s escalating global transnational repression includes its September report. According to Dahlin, the report followed another one from his organization titled “Involuntary Returns—report exposes long-arm policing overseas.”
In that earlier report, which was released in January 2022, it was examined how the Chinese government claimed in December 2021 that its Sky Net operations and partner Operation Fox Hunt had successfully returned 10,000 “fugitives” to China from all over the world since 2014, when Fox Hunt was first introduced as a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.
These operations are aimed at “high-value targets,” according to Dahlin. According to the Safeguard Defenders report, Sky Net claims to solely target economic offenders and authorities accused of crimes such as corruption or bribery, but Dahlin claims Sky Net has also been proven to target human rights defenders. The Chinese central police execute operations against high-value targets, while people involved in lower-level offenses like fraud—who are deemed low-value targets—are watched by local Chinese police, according to Dahlin.
“The most common method to do this is to persuade them to return ‘voluntarily.’ We’ve also had a number of cases where [Beijing] sent agents—Chinese police officers, undercover—to the target countries; we have a number of people in the U.S. being indicted for this,” he said.
Dahlin suggested a third option: kidnappings. He stated that his team has found 22 incidences of kidnapping.
Although his organization has not identified any incidents of actual kidnapping in Canada, Dahlin claims that the Chinese dictatorship performs “a lot more [of] sending secret agents to intimidate people and that type of operation” in Canada and the United States.
When questioned about the seriousness of China’s international operations, Dahlin stated that the consequences for Canada are “certainly worse than Europe.”
“Canada has such a significant Chinese diaspora community—much bigger than pretty much all of Europe together—so certainly, there’s a lot more people at risk in Canada,” he said, adding that Canada, the United States, and Australia are the “big three” destinations for Chinese asylum seekers and relocation.