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.