Protesters rally outside Chinese ‘police service station’ amid spy accusations


International calls grow to stop Chinese infiltration of overseas democracies

Protesters rally outside Chinese 'police service station' amid spy accusations

Protesters gather outside a Chinese “police service station” in New York’s Chinatown district on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, to demand an end to spying on the Chinese community in New York.

Protesters gathered outside a Chinese “police service station” in New York – believed to serve as a base to spy on dissidents – and two Chinese consulates in California over the weekend amid growing calls in the United States, Canada and around the world for curbs on Beijing’s overseas influence activities.

Canadian lawmaker Jagmeet Singh called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to hold a public inquiry into alleged Chinese interference in Canada’s elections, the latest in a string of political figures to do so.

Recent media reports alleging foreign interference needed a “thorough, transparent and independent investigation,” Singh said. “When Canadians learn about possible foreign interference through leaked documents, confidence in our democracy is put at risk.”

“The way to stop alleged secret Chinese interference is to refuse to keep their secrets for them. A fully independent and non-partisan public inquiry is the way to shine a light into the shadows,” he said in comments reported by the Global News.

In New York on Saturday, dozens of protesters gathered with banners outside the Changle Association on East Broadway, which had billed itself a charity.

The association was reportedly raided by the FBI last year, and then put onto a blacklist by the IRS for tax evasion over the previous three years. Staff have since disappeared.

Congressman Mike Gallagher told protesters at the scene that he had written to the FBI asking for a faster response on such stations in future. 

“This innocent-looking building that you see behind me has an unauthorized secret police station linked to the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.

Global network of policing operations

The protests came as governments around the world have launched their own investigations into alleged Chinese secret police stations identified by the Madrid-based non-governmental organization, Safeguard Defenders, whichreported in September 2022 that China is carrying out “illegal, transnational policing operations” across five continents via 54 so-called police service stations in 30 countries.

Beijing says the stations were set up to provide essential services to Chinese citizens overseas, but Safeguard Defenders says they are actually used to coerce emigrants into returning home to face criminal charges and to silence dissent abroad.  

Zhou Fengsuo, executive director of the New York-based Human Rights in China, said the protest event was organized by the newly formed Congressional Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, headed by Gallagher in a bid to raise public awareness of potential political threats posed by Beijing.

“This was the first public event organized by the newly established anti-communist committee in the U.S. Congress,” Zhou said. “For them to choose this place, and to choose to stand with us sends a very important message.”

“These representatives of American public opinion have listened to Chinese dissidents, and they understand the harassment, threats and attacks that Chinese dissidents have suffered at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party in the United States,” he said. “They aren’t going to allow this to continue.”

Exiled activist Wang Yonghong told the rally that he was beaten up by Chinese agents on July 1, 2019, as he turned out to welcome President Tsai Ing-wen of democratic Taiwan in Manhattan.

“This was [the work of] a peripheral organization linked to the Chinese Communist Party,” Wang said. “It doesn’t matter what guise they take: they are all the spies, lackeys, goons and accomplices of Beijing and are all evil organizations.”

New York-based Xiao Li welcomed the protests. “I am glad that so many people care about the struggles of ordinary Chinese people and the Chinese people’s desire for democracy,” Xiao said. “It makes me very happy.”

California protests

Further protests were held on Feb. 25 outside the Chinese consulates in Los Angeles and San Francisco, amid calls for an end to Chinese spy balloons flying over the United States.

“It rained heavily in LA today, but I still saw a lot of people turn out at the gate of the Chinese consulate to protest against the Chinese Communist Party’s transnational infiltration and arrests,” protester Xie Zeng, a member of the banned China Democracy Party from the southwestern city of Chongqing told Radio Free Asia.

“I will continue to take part in these activities, because it’s our responsibility to do so,” she said.

On Feb. 24, British shadow foreign minister Catherine West called on the foreign secretary to assess how the Foreign Office would respond to reports of intimidation by Chinese intelligence officers towards Hong Kong nationals and Uyghur Muslims living in the United Kingdom.

Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Anne-Marie Trevelyan told the House of Commons: “The UK Government takes the protection of individuals’ rights, freedoms and safety in the UK very seriously.”

“The UK will continue to defend human rights, speaking out and taking action where appropriate – as we have done over Hong Kong and Xinjiang,” she said.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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