Los Angeles Times

Canada probes China, police

Two secret stations in Quebec are targeting Chinese diaspora, authoritie­s say.


MONTREAL — Canadian police are investigat­ing allegation­s that China is secretly operating two police stations in Quebec, police officials said Thursday.

Canadians of Chinese origin have been victims of activities carried out by the stations, Sgt. Charles Poirier of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said, adding that any type of intimidati­on, harassment or targeting of diaspora communitie­s will not be tolerated.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Integrated National Security Team has opened investigat­ions into the suspected police stations in Montreal and Brossard, a suburb south of the city, he said.

The Spanish human rights organizati­on Safeguard Defenders said in a report in September that there were dozens of Chinese police operations around the world, which activists fear are used to track and harass dissidents.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has described the foreign outposts as service stations for Chinese people abroad who need help with, for instance, renewing their driver’s licenses.

China also has said that it has sought to crack down on transnatio­nal crimes but that any agents overseas operate in line with internatio­nal law.

The investigat­ion into outposts in Quebec province was first reported Thursday in the Journal de Montreal.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is trying to detect and disrupt “foreign state-backed criminal activities,” which may threaten people living in Canada, Poirier said. A phone line has been created to report any threats in Quebec.

“The RCMP recognizes that Canadians of Chinese origin have been victims of the possible activities conducted by these centers,” Poirier said. “It is important to support communitie­s that may be affected by these activities.”

Safeguard Defenders said in September that there were three Chinese police operations in Toronto, and it later identified two more, in Vancouver and a second unknown Canadian location. The group has said the stations serve to “persuade” people who Chinese authoritie­s claim are fugitives living overseas to return to China to face charges.

The outposts underscore­d concerns about the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s influence over its citizens abroad, sometimes in ways deemed illegal by other countries, as well as the underminin­g of democratic institutio­ns and the theft of economic and political secrets by bodies affiliated with China.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the presence of Chinese police stations in Canada “concerns us enormously,” adding that it underlines how the primary targets of foreign interferen­ce are diasporas living in Canada.

“We’ve known about the [presence of] Chinese police stations across the country for many months, and we are making sure that the RCMP is following up on it and that our intelligen­ce services take it seriously,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa didn’t immediatel­y return a message seeking comment.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Thursday that Canada had refused to give a diplomatic visa to a political operative for China last fall out of concerns about foreign interferen­ce.

 ?? Andrew Harnik Associated Press ?? INTELLIGEN­CE agencies are taking the issue seriously, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
Andrew Harnik Associated Press INTELLIGEN­CE agencies are taking the issue seriously, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

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