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07 Nov 2022

14 governments launch investigations into Chinese 110 overseas police service stations

On September 12, 2022, Safeguard Defenders released its investigation 110 Overseas – China’s Transnational Policing Gone Wild, followed later by case studies of how such stations had been used in persuasion operations in Spain and Serbia, followed by a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that seemingly admitted to its use of such persuasion operations abroad, even in countries they do have extradition treaties with. 

The investigation follows our wider report Involuntary Returns, on the growing use of illegal extra-judicial mechanisms to return individuals to China against their will by exerting various forms of pressure, often involving the use of threats and harassments against family members back home or directly against the targeted individual abroad. The “overseas police service centers” - set up by at least two Public Security Bureaus from Zhejiang and Fuzhou province in countries around the world in apparent close cooperation with the local United Front Work Department[1], with tasks that include to resolutely crack down on all kinds of overseas Chinese-related illegal and criminal activities"[2] – uncovered in 110 Overseas are but the latest iteration in the PRC’s growing transnational repression, where it seeks to police and limit political expression far beyond its own borders.

Following our release and global media reporting on the establishment of overseas police service centers, various Governments have announced actions. In presenting an overview of these, we renew our call on authorities across all democracies to recognize the domestic threat represented by these rapidly expanding transnational repression operations and adopt a whole-of-government approach with an aim to 1) investigate the PRC’s transnational repression tactics and underlying networks – also in countries where no police service station appears to have been set up -; 2) set up adequate reporting and protection mechanisms for communities at risk and ensure local law enforcement offices are aware of the particular threats they face; 3) urgently review – and possibly suspend - judicial and police cooperation agreements with the PRC; and 4) coordinate information-sharing and adequate responses with likeminded countries, including targeted sanctions and visa restrictions on those responsible for or complicit in these efforts.

Though not included in the report itself, information, many times detailed information, on most of the exposed 54 stations are kept by Safeguard Defenders and shared with local media investigating such stations and with any government entities that reach out and seek further information. Since the release, one additional local police jurisdiction running similar stations has been identified, with an additional 16 stations - the exact locations being researched now for later release.

(This list was last updated on November 7, 2022)



Austria’s Interior Ministry announced it is investigating the police service centers. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry stated to APA news agency that "Under no circumstances will we tolerate illegal activities by foreign intelligence services or police authorities.” (Euractiv)



The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is "investigating reports of criminal activity in relation to the so-called 'police' stations." The RCMP also said it takes "threats to the security of individuals living in Canada very seriously and is aware that foreign states may seek to intimidate or harm communities or individuals within Canada." (CBC)



Interior Minister Carolina Tohá announced a police investigation is being carried out following a cabinet meeting. (El Mostrador)


Czech Republic

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky stated to media that relevant authorities are investigating the overseas police service centres in the Czech Republic. (Ceske Noviny)



Police and internal security services in Germany are investigating whether China maintains an illegal extraterritorial police station in Frankfurt (Reuters).

A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry of department further pointed out that the Federal Republic had not concluded a bilateral agreement with the People's Republic of China on the operation of overseas police stations. "The federal government does not tolerate the exercise of foreign state authority and accordingly Chinese authorities have no executive powers on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany," she emphasized. The federal government is also working to ensure "that the Chinese diplomatic missions in their activities in Germany move within the framework of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations". (Handelsblatt)



The Department of Foreign Affairs said neither Chinese authorities nor officials from the Fujian province or Fuzhou city sought permission from the department to set up the station in Dublin. As a result, department officials raised the presence of the police service station with the Chinese embassy in recent weeks. “The Department noted that actions of all foreign states on Irish territory must be in compliance with international law and domestic law requirements,” a spokesman said. “On this basis, the Department informed the Embassy that the office on Capel Street should close and cease operations.” (Irish Times)



When prompted by media on the existence of the Prato Fuzhou station in September of this year, the Interior Ministry under the former Government responded the station “is of no particular concern”. While the new Government has yet to respond, video evidence has emerged that local Roman police officers were present at the unveiling of the Qingtian Overseas Police Service Center in Rome in 2018, set up during the Joint Police patrols under a 2015 agreement between Italy and the PRC’s Ministry of Public Security which delegated the patrols to Zhejiang’s Public Security Bureau for the 2018 round. (Formiche)



The Edo State Police Command denied reports that China has established a police station in Benin and accused and insulted the reporting journalist for “misleading the public”.  They also added that:  “Edo State Police Command frowns at this development and maintains that Nigeria is a sovereign Nation established by law and no other nation can establish a base of any form with due process as enshrined in the existing laws of the land. “ (Vanguard Ngr)   



The Public Ministry is investigating whether there are indeed Chinese police stations in Portugal, which, if confirmed, necessarily represents an illegal practice. As confirmed by the Public Prosecutor's Office, the investigative measures are being directed by the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DCIAP). DCIAP is the department of the Public Ministry that investigates the most serious, complex and sophisticated organized crime. (Publico)



The Interior Ministry is investigating the PRC overseas police service centers. (El Mundo)



Foreign Minister Tobias Billström stated the issue had been handed over to law enforcement authorities, in particular the security police (Säpo) which confirmed they knew about the police stations but have released no further information on the investigation.

According to Fredrik Hultgren-Friberg, Säpo press spokesperson, several countries conduct security-threatening activities against and in Sweden, in particular China, Russia and Iran. (Aftonbladet)


The Netherlands

The Dutch Foreign Ministry said it is investigating reports that China had set up two illegal police stations in the Netherlands. "We are now investigating as a ministry what is going on with the centers, and when we have more intel about it we can determine the appropriate action," Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Maxime Hovenkamp said. "What is correct is that the Chinese government never informed us about the centers via diplomatic channels so that makes them illegal to begin with," Hovenkamp said. (Deutsche Welle)

On November 1, Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra announced the stations are illegal and had been ordered to shut. He added the Chinese Ambassador had been asked to provide complete clarification on the issue. He also announced full independent investigations by the authorities into the stations’ activities were ongoing. (Wopke Hoekstra Twitter)


United Kingdom

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an investigation into the Glasgow overseas police service center. The first minister said she was taking the claims "extremely seriously" and had spoken to Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone. Assistant Chief Constable Andy Freeburn said: "We are currently reviewing these reports to assess any criminality in conjunction with local and national partners." (BBC)

During an Urgent Question debate in the House of Commons on November 1st, the UK Minister for Security stated the stations were under investigation and that a full assessment would be provided. (Hansard)


United States of America

Investigations into the overseas police service center listed in New York are ongoing. The U.S. has previously adopted a whole-of-government approach to countering PRC transnational repression and policing efforts on U.S. soil, which have led to a series of indictments (the latest indictment against six individuals was unsealed on October 20, and discussed during a press conference by the DOJ and FBI on October 24, 2022), as well as the announcement in March 2022 of visa restrictions against PRC officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors in China and beyond.



Authorities in Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Ecuador, France, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Lesotho, Mongolia, Serbia, Slovakia, Tanzania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan have yet to respond to the reports of PRC overseas police service centers on their territories.