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China establishing overseas police presence in Australia and around the world

ABC News | By Bang Xiao Posted 7h ago

An international human rights watchdog says there’s a lack of transparency about the function of China’s overseas police service stations.(Reuters: Aly Song)

Beijing has set up overseas police outreach operations in more than 80 cities across the world, including one in Australia, as part of a global security push under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Key points:

  • Chinese police from Wenzhou city established a “contact point” in Sydney in 2018
  • China is running police operations in more than 21 countries across five continents
  • Human rights experts are concerned the operations may target Chinese diaspora overseas

A report from international human rights group Safeguard Defenders released earlier this month revealed that Chinese police had set up overseas police service stations in countries including the United States, Japan, Spain and France.

The police stations have in some instances been called “110 Overseas” after China’s emergency hotline number.

The stations are affiliated with, and run by, local or municipal governments in China which have large numbers of Chinese nationals living abroad.

For example, the south-eastern city of Fuzhou, which has an estimated 3 million residents living overseas, has police overseas service stations in Prato, Italy and Barcelona, Spain. 

Chinese authorities have said the stations, sometimes called “contact points”, provide services to citizens, such as renewing national identification cards, passports and drivers licences, by using facial recognition technology.

But human rights groups fear overseas police offices could also be used to target dissidents abroad or compel people to return to China where they could face potentially politicised trials. 

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