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Chinese envoy in Canada summoned over secret police stations allegation

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The flag of the People's Republic of China files at the Embassy of China in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 5: The Beijing ambassador in Ottawa, Canada, has been summoned to explain reports that claimed that the CCP government is setting up criminal police stations in Toronto to harass expats from China, according to Hong Kong Free Press. The Spain-based rights group Safeguard Defenders’ report in September claimed that stations “serve a far more sinister and wholly illegal purpose” than what Beijing has acknowledged, including tracking and pursuing targets.

A senior foreign ministry official, Weldon Epp, told a special parliamentary committee on Canada-China relations on Tuesday that Ottawa was concerned about the three outposts among more than 50 stations worldwide. Epp told the committee about the investigation, “We’ve had several engagements. We’ve called the ambassador in on multiple occasions, and we have conveyed our deep concern.” The CCP government continues to deny all allegations regarding these operations on foreign soil and has said that the stations were set up to offer services, such as driver’s license renewals.

“The government of Canada has formally insisted that the Chinese government take account for… any activities within Canada that fall outside of the Vienna Conventions, and account for those and ensure that they cease and desist,” Epp said, adding that the lawmakers are considering taking “decisions [to see] how we take that forward, depending on how they respond.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in October said in a statement that they were investigating reports of criminal activity in relation to the claims that expatriates from China have been harassed. “The RCMP 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,” it said at the time.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that the reports were “completely false.” She added that its security agencies “strictly abide by international law and fully respect the judicial sovereignty of other countries.” The Safeguard Defenders report claimed that under the project “110 Overseas”, official provincial statements and guidelines from the local ministries of Public Security highlighted mass use of “persuasion to return” methods, citing state-run media. CCP mouthpiece Xinhua said that local authorities had combed every household to document the whereabouts of people before “doing everything possible” to persuade suspects overseas to return home. 

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