Beijing’s law enforcement tactics beyond its borders are under scrutiny after a report revealed dozens of cities—including New York—were hosting Chinese overseas police stations.
A pilot program run by the public security bureaus of Fuzhou and Qingtian counties—of coastal Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, respectively—had established 54 “overseas police service centers” across five continents, 25 cities and 21 countries as of June 21, according to Spain-based NGO Safeguard Defenders.
The overseas service stations were created in the name of combating transnational crime, especially telecommunications fraud, which has already seen the arrest of a large number of Chinese nationals living abroad. Their stated tasks also include the provision of administrative services, such as the renewal of Chinese driver’s licenses, the report said.
Safeguard Defenders said China’s policing tactics were problematic as they targeted suspects without firmly establishing links to crime or adhering to due process in host countries, chiefly by coercing the family members of alleged fugitives as a means to “persuade” them to return on their own.
Between April 2021 and July 2022, Chinese authorities arrested 230,000 suspects this way, the majority from Southeast Asia, the NGO said.
In the United States , the report’s open-source data indicated one such service center in New York City. In Canada , three were established in Toronto.
In South America, there was one each in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador ; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil ; Buenos Aires, Argentina ; and Viña del Mar, Chile .
Most of the Chinese overseas police stations were located in Europe, including nine in Spain , the most of any country on the list: three in Madrid, three in Barcelona, two in Valencia and one in Santiago de Compostela.
Italy was hosting the second-most stations in Europe with four: Rome, Milan, Florence and Prato.
In France , three service centers were operating out of Paris. Portugal also hosted one each in Porto, Lisbon and Madeira. In United Kingdom , the report found two in London and one in Glasgow.
The Netherlands was hosting two such centers in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, respectively, while the Czech Republic had two in Prague. Budapest, Hungary , also had two, one for each of the Fuzhou and Qingtian police bureaus—a common phenomenon across Europe.
European countries each hosting only one Chinese police station included Dublin, Ireland ; Bratislava, Slovakia ; Frankfurt, Germany ; Athens, Greece ; Stockholm, Sweden ; Vienna, Austria ; Odessa, Ukraine ; and Belgrade, Serbia .
In Africa, Benin City, Nigeria ; Maseru, Lesotho ; and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania , each hosted one.
In Asia, at least one police center was operating out of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia ; Sirdaryo, Uzbekistan ; Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei ; Tokyo, Japan ; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia .
Safeguard Defenders’ September report, 110 Overseas , said the open-source figures represented a partial list of activities linked only to the two police bureaus, and that there were likely many more associated with the police of other major Chinese cities.
The overseas stations are often embedded in overseas Chinese community associations, the report said. The number 110 dials the police in China.
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