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US steps up crackdown on overseas police stations

Posted by on 2023/01/13. Filed under Breaking News,Headline News,International. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

A suspected Chinese government-run police station in New York has been raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But China has played down the role of the posts, saying only that they are staffed by volunteers to help Chinese citizens carry out routine tasks, and raising the issue of Chinese police service stations abroad again.

FBI counterintelligence agents searched a building in New York last fall as part of a criminal investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, according to people familiar with the matter, The New York Times reported. The six-story glass building in New York’s Chinatown contains what appears to be a Chinese police post.

But the people who spoke about the F.B.I. search did so only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. The Chinese Embassy in Washington on Wednesday played down the role of the outposts, saying they were staffed with volunteers to help Chinese citizens with routine tasks such as renewing their driving licences.

The search represents an escalation of a global controversy over China’s policing of its diaspora abroad. Irish, Canadian and Dutch officials have called for an end to Chinese police operations in their countries. The F.B.I. raid was the first known case in which American authorities had seized documents from a Chinese overseas police service.

But reports in the Chinese state news media not only cited the names of the police and local Chinese officials, but also described the operations in very different ways. Chinese reports tout the efficiency of the offices, which are often called overseas police service centers.

Some reports said the Chinese outposts were “gathering intelligence” and cracking foreign crimes without working with local officials. The public accounts make it unclear who actually runs the offices. These employees are sometimes referred to as “volunteers,” sometimes as “staff,” and even, in at least one case, as “directors.”

Western officials see the outposts as part of a broader effort by Beijing to spy on Chinese citizens abroad, including political dissidents, The New York Times reported. The most notorious such operation is known as Operation Fox Hunt, in which Chinese officials hunt down fugitives abroad and force them to return home.

At least four Chinese local governments, including Fuzhou, Qingtian, Nantong and Wenzhou, have set up dozens of police posts overseas, including in Japan, Italy, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other countries, according to state media reports and public statements.

“From a human rights point of view, this is very worrying. We are essentially allowing the Chinese diaspora to be controlled by the People’s Republic of China rather than subject to our national laws, “said Igor Merheim-Eyre, an adviser to Slovak members of the European Parliament.” This is clearly having a huge impact, not only on our relations with the Chinese diaspora across Europe, It also has a huge impact on national sovereignty.

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