The UK government has ordered China to shut down secret police stations operating on British soil, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat says in a written statement to parliament.
Britain has previously said reports of undeclared police stations in the country were “extremely concerning” and that any intimidation on British soil of foreign nationals by China or other states was unacceptable.
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British police have investigated claims made by the non-governmental human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders that such police stations were operating at three British sites, Tugendhat said on Tuesday.
“I can confirm that they have not, to date, identified any evidence of illegal activity on behalf of the Chinese state across these sites,” he said.
“We assess that police and public scrutiny have had a suppressive impact on any administrative functions these sites may have had.”
US federal agents arrested two New York residents in April for allegedly operating a secret Chinese police station in the Chinatown district of Manhattan.
‘Slanders and smears’
China has said it firmly opposed what it called US “slanders and smears”.
The British government has said it was aware of about 100 such stations around the world.
The Chinese government has previously said there are centres outside China run by local volunteers, not Chinese police officers, that aim to help Chinese citizens renew documents and offer other services.
“The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office have told the Chinese Embassy that any functions related to such ‘police service stations’ in the UK are unacceptable and that they must not operate in any form,” Tugendhat said.
“The Chinese Embassy have subsequently responded that all such stations have closed permanently. Any further allegations will be swiftly investigated in line with UK law,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s 101 East has investigated a global network of Chinese police outposts and allegations that Chinese dissidents are being stalked and harassed in Europe.