MPs ask the government about China’s police stations. This week, two MPs tabled parliamentary questions on the four Chinese “Overseas Police Service Stations” in Italy, which are suspected of monitoring Chinese citizens abroad while hiding behind the facade of assistance centres for domestic and administrative activities.
- Lia Quartapelle, foreign affairs spokesperson of the Democratic Party (opposition), asked “whether the government would consider not reviewing the agreements signed with the People’s Republic of China on public security cooperation,” recalling that “Italy is currently one of the very few countries in the world, and the only one in the G7, to have started cooperation with the Chinese security forces for periodic joint patrols on their respective territories.”
- Mara Bizzotto, senator of the League (government), asked the government what initiatives it intends to undertake “to verify whether these overseas stations conceal a broader architecture of espionage and control over the Chinese communities present on Italian territory,” whether it intends to “request clarifications from the diplomatic representation of the PRC in Italy” and if it would “proceed through joint initiatives at EU level to address the issue.”
It’s bigger than Italy. A report by Safeguard Defenders, a human rights non-governmental organisation, has focused the West’s attention on Chinese Overseas Police Stations. There are as many as 54 stations in 30 countries around the world. Four are in Italy: in Milan, Prato, Florence and Rome.
- Officially, they are responsible for “fighting international organised crime” and providing “administrative services,” such as renewing the driving licences of Chinese citizens. But according to Safeguard Defenders, they actually carry out “persuasion operations” to force opponents of the CCP’s regime to return home.
And capitals are looking into it. Several governments in Europe and America have launched investigations on this matter through their interior ministries and intelligence agencies. Recently, the Dutch Foreign Ministry declared the two “police stations” illegal and “unacceptable”,and ordered their closure.