China has opened dozens of “overseas police service stations” around the globe, including Nigeria, to observe its nationals living abroad.
This is contained in a report titled “110 Overseas: Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild,” which covers China’s efforts to fight “fraud” committed by its citizens living in other countries.
The report notes that these police stations have been opened in 22 countries around the world.
In Europe, the locations include London, Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, Athens, Paris, Madrid and Frankfurt.
North America is also home to four of the stations, with three locations in Toronto and one in New York City. In all, there are 54 such stations in 30 different countries.
In Nigeria, the Fuzhou-Run overseas police “Service Station” is said to be located in Benin City, Edo State.
Efforts to reach Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Police Force, proved abortive as phone calls and messages sent have been unanswered.
However, SP Chidi Nwanbuzor, the Police Public Relations Officer in Edo State Police Command, said he was not aware of the development.
The report notes that China has opened these police stations in an attempt to “combat the growing issue of fraud and telecommunication fraud by Chinese nationals living abroad,” and its operations have resulted in 230,000 Chinese nationals being “persuaded to return” to China “voluntarily” in the last year to face criminal prosecution.
The report also outlines the potential human rights abuses associated with the stations, including using harassment and intimidation methods, such as threatening the family members of the overseas citizens.
Human rights groups have raised concerns over China’s actions. Safeguard Defenders Campaign Director Laura Harth said on Monday that the number of secret police stations set up around the world by the Chinese government had been “growing” after 54 stations were initially uncovered in 30 countries.
The investigation by Safeguard Defenders says that while the overseas police service centres may help Chinese diaspora and tourists with everyday problems, they are part of a complex global web of surveillance and control, allowing the Communist Party to reach far beyond China’s borders.
“As these operations continue to develop, and new mechanisms are set up, it is evident that countries governed by the standards set by universal human rights and the rule of law urgently need to investigate these practices to identify the (local) actors at work, mitigate the risks and effectively protect the growing number of those targeted,” the report said.