CNN: There is an Illegal Chinese Police Station in Zagreb

CNN: There is an Illegal Chinese Police Station in Zagreb
Fran Rubil / PIXSELL

December 4, 2022 - Chinese police officers were seen on a joint patrol with their Croatian colleagues on the streets of the capital Zagreb in July. According to CNN, Chinese police stations were set up across Europe, including Croatia.

As Poslovni / CNN reported, Beijing has set up more than 100 so-called overseas police stations worldwide, including in Croatia, to monitor, harass, and in some cases, return Chinese nationals living in exile.

At the same time, writes CNN, the Chinese are using bilateral security agreements concluded with countries in Europe and Africa to gain a broad international presence.

Madrid-based human rights group Safeguard Defenders has found evidence that China operates 48 additional police stations abroad since the group first revealed the existence of 54 such stations in September.

A new report called "Patrol and Persuade" focuses on the scale of the network and examines the role that joint police initiatives between China and several European countries, including Italy, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania, have played in the expansion of China's overseas outposts.

Among the new claims made by the group is that a Chinese national was forced to return home by operatives working undercover at a Chinese overseas police station in the suburbs of Paris, recruited specifically for the purpose, in addition to earlier revelations that two other Chinese were forcibly returned from Europe – one in Serbia, the other in Spain.

China struck agreements on joint police patrols with Croatia and Serbia between 2018 and 2019 as part of the nation's growing strategic influence as outlined in China's foreign policy priorities, CNN reports.

Chinese police officers were seen on a joint patrol with their Croatian colleagues on the streets of the capital Zagreb in July of this year.

A Zagreb police official interviewed by the Chinese news agency Xinhua said that patrols are crucial for "protection and attracting foreign tourists."

A 2019 Reuters report said Chinese police officers joined Serbian police on patrol in Belgrade to help deal with the influx of Chinese tourists.

One Serbian official said the Chinese had no authority to make the arrests.

Safeguard Defenders, which searches publicly available official Chinese documents for evidence of human rights abuses, said it had identified four different police jurisdictions of China's Ministry of Public Security active in at least 53 countries, spanning all four corners of the world, allegedly to help Chinese expatriates with their needs abroad.

The NGO claims Italy hosted 11 Chinese police stations, including in Venice and Prato, near Florence.

Beijing has denied having an undeclared police force outside its territory, and its Foreign Ministry told CNN in November: “We hope the relevant parties will stop exaggerating to create tensions. Using this as an excuse to smear China is unacceptable.”

China has argued that the facilities are administrative centers set up to help Chinese expatriates with tasks such as renewing their driver's licenses.

China also said the offices are a response to the covid-19 pandemic, which has left many citizens in other countries unable to renew their identity documents.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the overseas stations are staffed by volunteers, but in the meantime, it has emerged that in some cases, they are people employed on multi-year contracts.

According to CNN, unreported consular activities outside of a country's official diplomatic missions are highly unusual and illegal unless the host country has given its express consent.

The suggestion that there is widespread repression of Chinese citizens in foreign countries comes at a crucial time for a nation grappling with its own unrest at home, amid fatigue from the country's restrictive Covid-19 policies as leader Xi Jinping's third term in power begins, CNN reports.

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