Chinese police station in Sydney 'flew under the radar' until now

The alarming office set up by the Chinese Communist Party has been operating since 2019 but has only recently come to the attention of the general public

Chinese police station in Sydney 'flew under the radar' until now
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A Chinese police station set up in Sydney is similar to dozens around the world being used by the Chinese Communist Party to track down dissidents, a human rights organisation has claimed.

Human rights watchdog Safeguard Defenders told the ABC China had established police stations - known as contact points - in 30 different countries under the pretext of helping citizens renew national ID cards, passports and drivers’ licences.

But the group alleges the stations are also being used to track down and facilitate the return of dissidents to China.

The ABC reported this week that an official “contact point” had been established in Sydney in 2019 but “flew under the radar in the Australian and international press”.

The ABC was careful to say it was “not aware of any evidence it has been utilised for any of the activities suggested by Safeguard Defenders about other overseas sites”.

Safeguard Defenders spokeswoman Laura Harth said the police stations were a risk to Chinese people in Australia who opposed the CPP, and to their family members in China.

“For Australian people, I would say, especially for Chinese people that have fled China - dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities - these organisations can be used, potentially, to go after them or to go after their families,” she said.

Safeguard Defenders claimed that in January eight Australian residents were involuntarily returned to China by the CPP to face prosecution for alleged “economic crimes”.

The non-profit said the CCP threatened Chinese people living overseas that if they didn't return, something would be done to their family.

Examples of alleged blackmail included authorities threatening to cut electricity to the homes of families or restricting access to schools for relatives.

'Nothing seems to be too harsh,” Harth said. “That's a clear message to anyone seeking to leave China, or already left China: that you're not safe anywhere.”

The ABC reported that China was operating the stations in cities around the world including New York, London, Paris, Toronto, Amsterdam. Madrid and Rome.

Harth said the stations operated outside of existing bilateral agreements on international crime.

The ABC reported that China's embassy in Canberra refused to comment about the nature of the contact point in Sydney and the activities conducted there.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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