China Expands Its Secret Police Stations Around the World

China uses 54 overseas police stations, including in New York City, to hunt down citizens

Xi Jinping (Feng Li/Getty Images)
September 15, 2022

China has opened up its latest secret "overseas police service centers" in Chinese restaurants and shops throughout the United Kingdom, the Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The Chinese Communist Party runs 54 police centers outside of China, 36 in Europe alone. One of the two in London claims to be a real estate company, while one in Glasgow operates in a Chinese restaurant.

The expansion of these overseas police stations comes as human rights activists warn that China is harassing political dissidents on foreign soil. Some political exiles say China is misusing Interpol to bring back dissidents, including foreign nationals, the Telegraph reported.

While the stations say they help Chinese travelers with paperwork, researchers have found that they are actually "hunting down and blackmailing Chinese citizens to force them to return home." According to the human rights organization Safeguard Defenders, the centers' activity "is all taking place under the radar," unseen by police and the public.

One Chinese secret police center operates in New York City, the Safeguard Defenders report found.

Officers at a center in Madrid tracked down a man and forced him to take part in "a video call with public security agents and a prosecutor" in China.

The centers also extort people into returning to China by "threatening to cut electricity to the homes of families" and "restricting access to public schools for relatives."

By blackmailing Chinese citizens instead of "following formal extradition proceedings," Beijing lessens Western governments' "scrutiny of its human rights record," the Safeguard Defenders report found.

Britain's Home Office told the Telegraph that "any requests for repatriation of suspected foreign criminals must be made in accordance with U.K. and international law," adding that "illegal repatriation efforts will not be tolerated."

When the Telegraph reached out to one center in London, a worker lied to the paper, saying the police station only helps "overseas Chinese extend their Chinese driver's licenses and arrange required health checks."

The stations are affiliated with the United Front Work Department, a Communist Party organization that has deep ties to the Biden administration. The think tank founded by Biden energy czar John Podesta, for example, has worked extensively with a United Front organization. The president's son, Hunter Biden, helped a United Front Work Department group gain a foothold in the United States, the Washington Free Beacon reported.