'Secret police stations' actually volunteer hubs

2023-09-12 09:57:48China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Anti-China forces behind slew of fake reports aimed at misleading public

The so-called overseas secret police stations are a concept deliberately fabricated and hyped up by anti-China forces and some foreign officials.

Those stations in fact are volunteer centers established and run by overseas Chinese groups offering various services to local Chinese people, including the renewal of Chinese driver's licenses.

Safeguard Defenders, an organization that claims to support human rights, based in Madrid, Spain, released a report last year accusing Chinese police of using 54 so-called secret police stations worldwide to track fugitives abroad.

This April, the United States Justice Department announced that two Chinese Americans were arrested on charges that they helped establish one of these stations in New York City on behalf of the Chinese government.

In addition, based on the report, some officials in a few countries, including Canada, the Netherlands and Italy, also said they would look into the relations between these stations and Chinese public security authorities.

However, the NGO report actually took a large number of public reports in Chinese media out of context and fabricated claims about "secret police stations".

Safeguard Defenders proclaims itself as a human rights NGO, but its founder Peter Dahlin has a history of engaging in illegal activities that have posed a national security threat to China.

In a regular news briefing in early 2016, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that Dahlin, a Swedish citizen who was living in Beijing, was suspected of funding activities and crimes that endangered China's national security.

Hua said that in January 2016, the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau lawfully imposed residential surveillance on him at a designated location, according to the provisions of the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law.

During interrogation, Dahlin confessed to the crimes, the spokeswoman said, adding that in accordance with relevant Chinese laws, he was expelled from the country that month.

Later that year, he founded Safeguard Defenders.

According to an opinion piece by Global Times, the NGO's funding sources cannot be found on its website. But reports show that its previous incarnation, the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group — an NGO co-founded by Dahlin that claimed to assist so-called human rights defenders in China — received funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, a US organization set up to promote coercive diplomacy by inciting regime change in other countries.

This could explain questions about for whom Safeguard Defenders works and fabricates information.

The NGO's reports focus on so-called overseas dissidents and corrupt officials from China. However, Shen Yi, an international politics professor at Fudan University, was quoted by the Global Times as saying that some Chinese fugitives, fearing being repatriated, often give fabricated accounts about China to NGOs.

These organizations, which likely make money from the fugitives, collect stories from them and help them seek political asylum while feeding Western governments with anti-China materials that they have received, said Shen, stressing that it has nothing to do with protecting their national security but is more likely a money-for-shelter business.

Thus, there are sufficient reasons to question the credibility of "investigative" reports and findings released by the Safeguard Defenders on China's law enforcement activities.

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