230,000 Chinese “persuaded to return” from abroad, China to establish extraterritoriality

This latest installment of Safeguard Defenders’ Investigations dives deep into China’s growing global police toolkit by examining a seemingly recent campaign to combat transnational telecommunications and online fraud (according to official provincial statements) by several provinces of the People’s Republic of China.

This investigationalthough short at only 20 pages, is packed with five big revelations:

  • A new law adopted on September 2, entry into force on December 1, establishes complete extraterritoriality on Chinese and foreigners in the world for certain crimes (fraud, telecom fraud, online scams, etc.);
  • Between April 2021 and July 2022, Chinese police “persuaded” 230,000 claims fugitives must return to China ‘voluntarily’ (while admitting that not all targets committed crimes);
  • Established nine prohibited countrieswhere Chinese nationals are no longer allowed to live unless they have a “good reason”;
  • New tools for paper-based “persuasion” operations, including denying children of the target in China the right to educationand other limitations placed on family members, punishing those not suspected of wrongdoing with “guilt by association” (similar to North Korean practice), and
    • It also includes government documents stating that relatives in China who do not help the police “persuade” targets should be investigated and punished either by the police or the internal Party police, the CCDI;
  • The creation of at least 54 police-operated “overseas policing centers” on five continentssome of whom are involved in collaborating with the Chinese police in carrying out law enforcement operations on foreign soil (including in Spain).

Download the full survey (PDF) for more information, data, maps, tables and sources.

For this operation abroad, rather than using international police or judicial cooperation mechanisms – which provide control mechanisms to protect the rights of the target, including the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence before trial – official provincial statements and directives from the Ministries of Public Security or local Procuratorates highlight the massive use of methods of *persuasion to return*.

According to these statements, in the fifteen months alone between April 2021 and July 2022 – and despite pandemic-related restrictions – an impressive 230,000 Chinese nationals were returned to face possible criminal charges in China by through these methods, which often include threats and harassment. to family members back home or directly to the target overseas, through online or physical means.

110 Overseas – Chinese Transnational Police Gone Wild traces the origins of the campaign by ten “pilot provinces” to 2018. The official guidelines explicitly outline the various tools made available to “persuade” targets to voluntarily return to China to face charges. These include targeting the children of alleged suspects in China, denying them the right to education, as well as targeting family members and relatives alike. In short, a full sanction of “guilt by association” to “encourage” suspects to return from abroad.

The tools and purposes of these methods have been amply described in the January 2022 report by Safeguard Defenders Involuntary returnswho reviewed the highest value target trades Fillet of sky (and fox hunting).

The very recent documentation presented in this investigation indicates their increased use in overseas operations also by local Chinese police and judicial authorities, confirming a very dangerous trend.

The combination of an absolute absence of minimum legal safeguards for the target and the association through guilt-inducing methods employed on their families, as well as the illegal methods adopted to circumvent official international cooperation mechanisms and the use of organizations linked to the United front abroad to assist in such efforts, pose a very serious risk to the international rule of law and territorial sovereignty.

Download the full survey (PDF) for more information, data, maps, tables and sources.

Learn more about “persuading to return” methods in the Safeguard Defenders report Involuntary returnswhere “persuasion” operations are classified as Type 1 (and sometimes Type 2) IR operations.

On September 2, 2022, a national Anti-telecom law and online fraud was passed, establishing a claim of extraterritorial jurisdiction over all Chinese nationals worldwide in prosecutions for fraud, telecommunications and online fraud.

Nine banned countries

The designation of “nine banned countriesfor Chinese citizens to travel or reside under a local emergency notice as part of the campaign shows the extreme lengths authorities will go to in their crackdown and how easily a citizen can find themselves a suspect. The rules treat everyone as a suspect until proven guilty.

A police officer has publicly stated that while not all Chinese living in northern Myanmar are criminals, they would still be subject to “persuasion to return” operations. The police further admitted that they did not actually have evidence that all of those targeted had committed crimes.

Although there is no official breakdown of where the 230,000 people have been returned to, a majority appear to be from the nine ‘banned’ countries, with Myanmar standing out with 54,000 people returned between January and September 2021 .

Over the past few months, evidence suggests that the “success” of the pilot campaign is rapidly leading to its expansion to a truly global scale.

110 overseas

Over the past year, new evidence has emerged indicating that at least two of the county’s police jurisdictions were active in this long-arm policing operation through the establishment of “overseas police stations” in cooperation with local associations linked to United Front Work.

The United Front Work system is the work of Chinese Communist Party agencies that seek to co-opt and influence “representative figures” and groups inside and outside of China, with an emphasis on particular on religious, ethnic minority and diaspora communities. – Alex Joske

Overseas gas stations are primarily set up to perform a series of seemingly administrative tasks to help overseas Chinese in their community of residence overseas, but they also serve a far more sinister and totally illegal purpose. . While the evidence available to date suggests that most transnational policing is conducted through the online tools of the nationally operated “overseas post”, some official anecdotes of official operations explicitly cite the active involvement of hometown associations on the ground in monitoring and pursuing targets. indicated by the local public security bureau or procuratorate in China.

On May 23, 2019, People’s Public Security News published the article《探索爱侨护侨助侨机制,设立警侨驿站海外服务中心 青田警方积极打造枫桥经验海外版》on Qingtian County Public Security Bureau’s “innovative establishment of overseas police service centers” providing “convenient services to the large number of overseas Chinese” in 21 cities cited in 15 countries, including Rome, Milan, Paris, Vienna, Austria, etc. ., “hiring 135 Qingtian-born overseas Chinese leaders and overseas Chinese group leaders” and “creating a team of more than 1,000 overseas network service information officers”, coordinated by a “national liaison centre”.

“Through the establishment of overseas service centers, Qingtian County Police have made breakthroughs in their pursuit of overseas fugitives. Since 2018, Qingtian Police have detected and solved six criminal cases related to of Overseas Chinese, successfully arrested a red notice fugitive and persuaded two suspects to surrender under the assistance of overseas centers.

At least two such cases have occurred on European soil: according to Chinese state media accounts, overseas police stations have actively assisted Chinese police in their “persuasion to return” activities in Spain and Serbia.

Based on the open source information collected so far, 54 physical “overseas service stations” have been identified in 30 countries on five continents. As these only represent stations set up by Fuzhou and Qingtian counties, the total number is most likely higher.

Overseas police stations operated by the Fuzhou County Public Security Bureau (Fujian Province) call themselves “110 Overseas Service Stations”, referring to the number of urgency of the Chinese police and inspiring the title of this investigation.

Download the full survey (PDF) for more information, data, maps, tables and sources.

Read more about “persuasion to return” in the Safeguard Defenders report Involuntary returnswhere “persuasion” operations are classified as type 1 IR operations.

Comments are closed.