The RCMP has launched an investigation into extrajudicial police stations under the control of Beijing operating in Canada.
News of an investigation comes days after the United States Department of Justice announced a spate of charges against two Chinese citizens. Alongside espionage claims, the two are accused of conspiring to force a US resident to return to China.
The RCMP has stated that it too is now “investigating reports of criminal activity in relation to the so-called ‘police’ stations.”
“(The RCMP takes) threats to the security of individuals living in Canada very seriously and is aware that foreign states may seek to intimidate or harm communities or individuals within Canada.”
Earlier this month, the organization Safeguard Defenders revealed in an explosive report that China had unofficial police operatives working throughout Canada.
While China claims that the operations were harmless and intended only to help Chinese citizens navigate bureaucratic processes like filing police reports, Safeguard Defenders outlined how the stations have led to international arrests.
“Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, many overseas Chinese citizens are not able to return to China in time for their Chinese driver’s licence renewal and other services,” the Chinese embassy told CBC News.
“For services such as driver’s licence renewal, it is necessary to have eyesight, hearing and physical examination. The main purpose of the service station abroad is to provide free assistance to overseas Chinese citizens in this regard.”
The embassy also claimed the agents were “not Chinese police officers” and weren’t “involved in any criminal investigation.” Claims of Chinese agents operating on Canadian soil come at a time when some Hong Kong activists are facing threats from Beijing for holding a “parliament in exile.”
“Instead, I feel it is ridiculous that a government which never represents its own people now wants to bring me and other activists to justice,” said activist Victor Ho who wants to hold a parliamentary election in 2024.
China was also accused by Safeguard Defenders of attempting to force Canadians residents to return to the mainland to face charges.
Conservative MP Michael Chong called on the Liberal government to immediately take action and even demand answers from the Chinese ambassador to Canada.
“We’ve heard of threats directly targeting people who are advocating for minority rights in China, such as those from the Uyghur and Tibetan communities. These stations are now another tool that Beijing can use to repress Canadians here in the Chinese community in Canada,” said Chong.
“The government needs to take immediate action. At minimum, they should be hauling the Chinese ambassador to Canada on the carpet through a formal demarche and strongly voicing our outrage.”
Former ambassador to China David Mulroney also blasted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for nine years of inaction on Twitter.
Earlier this week, Liberal MPs abstained from a vote in the House of Commons to denounce the genocide committed by China against the country’s Uyghur minorities in the Xinjiang region.
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