The Chinese police have opened at least two undeclared offices in the Netherlands since 2018, without informing the Dutch government, according to an investigation by RTL Nieuws and the investigative journalism platform, Follow the Money. Operating under the name of”overseas service stations”, which promise to provide diplomatic services, the offices are in practice being used to try to silence Chinese dissidents in Europe.
A spokeswoman for the Dutch foreign ministry said the existence of the unofficial police outposts was illegal.
“These agencies are illegal,” a Foreign Affairs spokesperson said in a statement.
“We will investigate exactly what they are doing here and then take appropriate action.”
The investigation was sparked by a report entitled Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild, by the Spain-based NGO Safeguard Defenders.
The offices claim to tackle transnational crime and conduct administrative duties, such as the renewal of Chinese drivers’ licences. But, according to Safeguard Defenders, in reality they carry out “persuasion operations” to silence and coerce Chinese citizens who criticize the Chinese regime to return home.
According to the organization, the public security bureaus from two Chinese provinces had established 54 “overseas police service centres” across five continents and 21 countries. Most of them are in Europe, including nine in Spain and four in Italy. In the UK, it found two in London and one in Glasgow.
The Story of Wang Jingyu
Wang Jingyu is a young refugee Chinese dissident in the Netherlands. He says the Chinese police have hunted him down for three years for criticizing the regime on social media.
At the beginning of this year, the refugee dissident Wang Jingyu received a call from someone who claimed to be from the Chinese police station in Rotterdam.
“He asked me to go back to China to solve my problems. He also told me to think about my parents,” Wang Jingyu said.
Later, he also got vague text messages with swear words from the number of the Rotterdam police station. There is still a warrant for him in China.
In protest, Wang demonstrated in front of the Chinese embassy in June this year. But for that, he started getting threatening calls and messages from other unknown numbers.
“I’m going to kill you,” someone texted him in Chinese with a photo of a gun.
Wang Jingyu also received several bomb threats. The Dutch police then raided his house, but concluded that Wang had nothing to do with it.
In addition, Wang has been harassed in public when he walked down the street or drank coffee at Starbucks.
Wang is concerned for his safety and already reported six times to the Dutch police. During a conversation, a police agent proposed him to stay in jail for protection.
“If there’s no other way to protect you, jail is the safest place. They can’t get in there,” Wang was told.
The police later admitted to him that the proposal to lock him up for his own safety was stupid.
In a response by e-mail, the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands said that it is not aware of the existence of the police stations. This is doubtful, because a high official of the embassy was present at a meeting where the establishment of the Amsterdam post is discussed, according to a report from a Chinese news site.
Chinese Foreign affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday that the alleged police stations overseas “are actually service stations for Chinese citizens abroad”, and China fully respected other countries’ judicial sovereignty.
The leaders of the police branches reportedly do not respond to questions.
On 2 September, China adopted a national Anti-Telecom and Online Fraud Law, which established a claim of extraterritorial jurisdiction over all Chinese nationals worldwide suspected of fraud.
With the new legislation, and the undeclared Chinese police offices on foreign soil, Chinese dissidents have nowhere safe to go.