Politics

The Chinese embassy has been told running overseas police stations in the UK is “unacceptable” and that “they must not operate in any form”.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat has set out the findings of an investigation into claims of unofficial stations being used to monitor dispersed communities and coerce people to return to China.

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Mr Tugendhat said police had visited four locations where the sites where allegedly operating “to consider whether any laws have been broken and whether any further action should be taken”.

He said no evidence of illegal activity on behalf of the Chinese state had been found – but the stations were set up “without consulting the UK government”.

Mr Tugendhat said: “We assess that police and public scrutiny have had a suppressive impact on any administrative functions these sites may have had.

“However, these ‘police service stations’ were established without our permission and their presence, regardless of whatever low level administrative activity they were performing, will have worried and intimidated those who have left China and sought safety and freedom here in the UK. This is unacceptable.”

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Mr Tugendhat said the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) have told the Chinese embassy that “any functions related to such ‘police service stations’ in the UK are unacceptable and that they must not operate in any form”.

“He added: The Chinese embassy have subsequently responded that all such stations have closed permanently.

“Any further allegations will be swiftly investigated in line with UK law.”

The probe was launched amid claims there were Chinese overseas police stations operating in Croydon, Glasgow and Hendon as well as in Belfast and being used to “monitor and harass diaspora communities and, in some cases, to coerce people to return to China outside of legitimate channels”.

China has previously denied operating overseas police stations.

But human rights group Safeguard Defenders says it has identified 110 around the world.

Mr Tughendhat said: “The Chinese authorities regularly criticise others for what they see as interference in their internal affairs. Yet, they felt able to open unattributed sites without consulting the UK government. It is alleged that this was a pattern repeated around the world.”

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