China is accused of operating 'secret police stations' in Britain

China is accused of operating ‘secret police stations’ in Britain: Civil rights group claim ruling Communist party are using ‘anti-fraud centres’ in London and Glasgow to force its critics to return – as MPs demand probe into ‘very concerning’ allegations

  • Beijing has been accused of operating secret overseas stations in plain view 
  • British addresses publicly listed in China include restaurants and a delivery firm
  • MPs demand probe into claims police stations are used to crackdown on dissent

China is operating dozens of secret police stations in plain view by disguising them as British restaurants, estate agents and other ordinary businesses, a civil liberties watchdog has claimed. 

A report from human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders warned China was operating more than 50 undeclared police hubs as part of a global network to force dissidents to return to Beijing.

The group’s researchers outlined the existence of possible sites in London and Glasgow after their addresses were made public by Chinese security bureaus in Fuzhou and Qingtian. 

The addresses were linked to Chinese restaurants in Scotland, and an estate agent and fast food delivery firm in London. All of the businesses involved denied links to the Chinese state, or did not comment when contacted by the Times.

MPs have called for a Home Office investigation into the allegations – which prompt wider concerns about China’s increasingly authoritarian iron fist being used to crackdown on protestors living abroad.

A spokesman for the China Research Group of MPs said: ‘A Chinese government official reportedly admitted the role of these stations in “pressuring criminals” to return to China. 

‘These “criminals” could be Hongkongers, Uighurs, dissidents or indeed anyone who has dared to criticise the Chinese Communist Party.’

Beijing rejected claims these were secretive police stations and insisted the outposts were used to deter ‘transnational fraud’ and provide diplomatic services for Chinese citizens living abroad.

More than 200,000 fraud suspects were ‘persuaded to return’ to Beijing between April 2021 and July 2022, Chinese officials have confirmed.

A report from human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders warned China was operating more than 50 undeclared police hubs as part of a global network to force dissidents to return to Beijing

Xi Jinping’s historic third term raises the prospect of greater tension between China and the West as the Communist leader tightens his grip on power 

Safeguard’s report highlighted 54 such illegal ‘police stations’ that have quietly flooded the world over five continents in a flagrant breach of international laws on extradition and cross-border arrests. 

The NGO described the situation as ‘Chinese transnational policing gone wild’. 

Named after the Chinese emergency number, the ‘110 Overseas’ centres sell themselves as one-stop-shops for Chinese people abroad, offering legal advice, document processing and ‘hotlines’ to police back in China. 

Their true purpose, however, is a means for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to take the law into its own hands — no matter the jurisdiction — and to, in its own words ‘resolutely crack down on various illegal and criminal activities involving overseas Chinese’. 

The two Glasgow addresses linked to two Chinese restaurants that have operated in the city for many years.

The two London addresses listed by Chinese police as overseas service stations include a takeaway delivery app and an estate agents. 

MailOnline has contacted the four businesses for comment. 

A Chinese foreign affairs spokesman said the addresses were ‘service stations for Chinese citizens abroad’. 

Safeguard Defenders claimed these stations were a likely ‘front’ for Chinese officials to use while managing administrative applications and pressuring dissenters to return.

A spokesman added: ‘These stations are not registered, hence they are unknown to their host government.

‘They are operating on foreign soil, using local Chinese residents to carry out duties for the Chinese police. This is a major breach in any sense of the word.’

It is understood that similar ‘overseas service centres’ are being investigated in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Europe has the highest concentration of undeclared police centres in the world, campaigners claimed.

Another operation in Sydney was reportedly established by the communist party’s Department of Public security in 2018. Similar investigations have unveiled premises linked to the CCP in New York.

Canada has similarly warned of the issue, with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Brenda Lucki confirming that the overseas centres there are ‘a growing problem’. 

The Safeguard Defender’s report highlighted 54 such illegal ‘police stations’ that have quietly flooded the world over five continents in a flagrant breach of international laws on extradition and cross-border arrests. The NGO said situation was Chinese transnational policing gone wild

Most shockingly, in 2020, a Madrid branch was able to apprehend Liu, a Chinese resident in Spain, who was wanted by prosecutors in China for ‘environmental pollution’. 

Using its network of people on the ground in the Spanish capital, Liu was taken to the 110 ‘station’ where he was put on a video call with police from his home province.

They were seated with a member of Liu’s family — placed there as a thinly-veiled threat — and Liu was ‘persuaded’ to return to the mainland where he was then prosecuted.

Last month, the Chinese embassy in Ireland denied the existence of a secret ‘police station’ when newspaper reporters visited the address of a supposed 110 centre, at a grocery shop in Dublin.

The suggestion that an authoritarian state has been operating covertly on foreign soil is likely to place further strain on an already tense relationship between Beijing and Downing Street.

It comes days after pro-democracy protestor Bob Chan was pulled to the ground outside the gate of the Chinese consulate in Manchester following a demonstration against the country’s president Xi Jinping 

In the past month alone, concerns have been raised about Britain’s former RAF ‘Top Guns’ gaining lucrative contracts advising China how they could takedown Western warplanes.

The British government released a ‘threat alert’ last week warning of former British fighter pilots who are signing up to help train the Chinese equivalent of the RAF. 

Similarly, a think tank claimed to have identified more than 60 individuals from top Chinese defence firms or universities linked to the People’s Liberation Army who have carried out research on British university campuses in the past 18 months.

MI5 chief Ken McCallum warned in July that the ‘most game-changing challenge’ to our security came from the ‘increasingly authoritarian Chinese Communist Party’. 

And earlier this year it was claimed a Chinese ‘spy’ outed by MI5 targeted the ‘highest levels of Government’, including former prime ministers.

Spy chiefs issued an unprecedented security alert to MPs over solicitor Christine Lee, 58, warning that her ‘political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party’ have been secretly monitored by the security services for years.

The twice married mother-of-two from the West Midlands has openly given around £670,000 to the Labour Party since 2005, including donating more than £600,000 to Brent North MP Barry Gardiner – who employed her son.

The news also comes after recent video footage showed a pro-democracy protester from Hong Kong being dragged inside the gates of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Rusholme and beaten.

Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the video was ‘deeply worrying’ and called on Home Secretary Suella Braverman to ‘look into this urgently’.

‘The Government must demand a full apology from the Chinese ambassador… and demand those responsible are sent home to China.’

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