Transnational Repression by Chinese police authorities in 110 countries


China’s growing power is being felt both economically and geopolitically. And that means it would be increasingly difficult to escape the tentacles that the regime extends throughout the world. A good example of this are the successes of the ‘Skynet’ and ‘Fox Hunt’ operations that the Xi Jinping government designed to get Chinese, suspected of having committed alleged crimes, return to China to be prosecuted. According to China Daily newspaper, between April, 2021 and August, 2022 Chinese agents have managed to “persuade” 230,000 Chinese to return to the homeland.

The China Daily newspaper states that in this period the Chinese police have solved no less than 594,000 frauds, have intercepted 2,810 million calls for criminal purposes, and have prevented the transfer of some 81 million euros from 109 million victims. However, what they do not count is how these operations of persuasion are carried out. The human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders, which has uncovered numerous violations by the Communist Party, has thoroughly investigated the ‘modus operandi’ and has discovered that the Chinese police operate illegally in 30 countries on four continents through a network of 54 ‘ police stations abroad’ that, behind the lawful objective of offering consular-type services to Chinese citizens residing outside its borders, hide much darker operations to identify and intimidate these suspects.

These overseas police stations disguise as Chinese diaspora associations, offices of online newspaper in Mandarin, and even Chinese restaurants.

Direct pressure abroad, through official or unofficial agents, is also among the methods used to intimidate wanted suspects. There have even been abductions in different places for the subsequent forced transfer to China. The two most notorious examples of this last method are those of the Swedish Gui Minhai and the Canadian Xiao Jianhua. The first ran a Hong Kong bookstore where works highly critical of the Communist Party were sold. Along with four other booksellers, Gui disappeared in 2015 after he was ‘abducted’ by men from the housing estate where he lived in Pattaya, Thailand. After months without a trace of him, he reappeared in China, where he starred in a forced confession on television, assuring that he had returned to face the charges that weighed on him for a traffic accident that happened ten years earlier. In 2018 he was again ‘abducted’ from a Chinese train in which he was traveling with Swedish diplomats and finally, sentenced to ten years in prison and five years of deprivation of his political rights for providing “intelligence information” to foreign forces. is daughter, Angela Gui, affirms that Gui is innocent and has been convicted for the sole reason of criticising the regime.

It is no doubt that these illegal extraterritorial police operations of China are being used to target activists and dissidents operating outside of China. The Chinese government is paranoid, worried that resistance might be organized abroad. These operations are a way of telling Chinese citizens that they cannot enjoy the rights and freedoms of democracy even when they live abroad.

Even big businessmen like Xiao can fall victim to the Chinese repressive arm. The financial tycoon disappeared from the Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong in 2017, coerced by Chinese agents. Xiao was sentenced to 13 years in prison last August.

“These methods allow the Communist Party and its security organs to circumvent bilateral police and judicial cooperation mechanisms, damaging the rule of law at the international level and the territorial integrity of the countries in which they operate,” says Safeguard Defenders. For this reason, these illegal offices have to be closed. A clear message has been sent to China by all these countries that this will not be tolerated. China cannot be allowed to interfere with the rule of law and rights guaranteed by each country.  

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