The Netherlands moved this week to force illegal “service stations” operated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) out of the country. Safeguard Defenders, a human rights watchdog organization, revealed in September that China had established at least 38 of surveillance stations in dozens of countries around the globe.
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra posted a tweet on Wednesday reporting the Chinese ambassador had been advised the stations were to be immediately closed down. Hoekstra said China had not asked the Netherlands for permission to set up either of the surveillance offices.
Dutch RTL Nieuws: The Chinese police have had two illegal police stations in the Netherlands since 2018, and China is using them to pressure on Chinese residing in the Netherlands
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) October 25, 2022
The Chinese stations were determined to be operating in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
China foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that the two Dutch offices were operated by “local volunteers” from the Chinese community and were not run by state police.
When allegations first surfaced last month that the offices were operating in the Netherlands, Chinese spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the offices are merely “service centers” that are in place to “help overseas Chinese nationals in need access the platform to have their driving licenses renewed and receive physical examinations.”
One Chinese dissident currently living in Rotterdam disagreed with China’s claim. Wang Jingyu said he has “solid and clear evidence to prove it’s a Chinese overseas police station.”
Jingyu said he has been receiving dozens of phone calls each day from the Rotterdam station displaying an official phone number. The person calling him has told him to “turn himself in and go back to China.” He added that he has been threatened with an “officially registered Telegram text” originating from the Rotterdam office.
The report from Safeguard Defenders states the CCP’s international police operations are part of a state program to bring Chinese nationals who are dissidents from the communist regime back to China. Those persons are reportedly brought back under bogus fraud investigations.
Chinese state media reported earlier this year that around 230,000 fraud suspects were “persuaded to return” to China by the CCP’s internationally stationed police between April 2021 and July 2022.
Safeguard Defenders said that its investigation indicates most of the persons persuaded to go back to China were actually “dissidents or individuals that had fled religious and/or ethnic persecution.”