Italy’s spotlight on China’s police stations. On Thursday, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi told senators that the police, in coordination with intelligence agencies, are carrying out “targeted investigations” on the so-called Overseas Chinese Police Stations located on Italian soil.
- Ostensibly, these establishments offer administrative services to Chinese citizens residing in Italy – act as a front of Beijing’s authorities. However, concern has been growing in Italy and elsewhere, as investigators suspect they engage in unlawful activities.
- The inquiry aims at acquiring “any evidence of possible arbitrary police activities carried out by these entities.”
- “I am personally following the developments of these investigations,” stressed the minister, who reiterated he does not exclude “sanctioning measures” if need be.
Turning on the heat. So far, explained Minister Piantedosi, controls have been carried out in the provinces where the Chinese communities are most rooted and numerous – namely Milan, Prato and Rome. Authorities identified several entities, “in the form of cultural associations,” that “carry out activities of administrative processing” and facilitate bureaucratic practices, such as renewing Chinese passports and driving licences, plus general assistance in cases of accident or illness.
- However, he noted further administrative and security-related verifications are underway in those cities and beyond.
- “As a result of these verifications, any irregularities that may have emerged will be contested and, in any case, the competent judicial authorities will be involved for any further evaluation.”
International attention. A report by Safeguard Defenders, a human rights non-governmental organisation, has focused the West’s attention on these establishments. There are as many as 54 stations in 30 countries around the world. Four are in Italy: in Milan, Prato, Florence and Rome.
- But according to Safeguard Defenders, the Stations carry out “persuasion operations” to force opponents of the CCP’s regime to return home and keep tabs on Chinese citizens residing overseas.
- Several governments in Europe and the US are looking into this through their interior ministries and intelligence agencies. Recently, the Dutch Foreign Ministry declared the two “police stations” illegal and “unacceptable” and ordered their closure.