UK orders closure of China-run 'police stations'

UK Minister for Security Tom Tugendhat updated Parliament June 6 about Chinese "overseas police service stations" operating within the United Kingdom.  Tugendhat told lawmakers that the UK has ordered China to close any remaining "police stations" on UK soil, calling the stations' existence "unacceptable." Tugendhat said that British authorities received reports from non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders of these stations in Croydon, Hendon and Glasgow, with allegations of another in Belfast.

The United States and Ireland both claim to have recently uncovered similar stations in their countries. Like the UK, they said the stations were used to monitor and harass Chinese diaspora communities. Tugenhadt noted that the stations were even known "to coerce people to return to China outside of legitimate channels." Tugendhat said that Chinese citizens living in the UK "had sought safety and freedom" away from the Chinese Communist Party.

Tugendhat added: "Let me be clear, any attempt by any foreign power to intimidate, harass or harm individuals or communities in the UK will not be tolerated. This is an insidious threat to our democracy and fundamental human rights."

In response to the controversy, China has maintained that it "adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, strictly observes international laws and respects the judicial sovereignty of all countries.... It is important that some from the UK side respect the facts rather than spread false accusations."

While before Parliament, Tugendhat also reiterated his plea that both houses of the body pass the pending National Security Bill, which toughens penalties for crimes undertaken on behalf of a foreign state. Those convicted of such acts could face up to 14 years in prison.

From Jurist, June 6. Used with permission.

See our last report on accusations of Chinese extraterritoriality.