DAILY MAIL - SIAN BOYLE - OCT 14, 2022
Disturbing investigation looks at three UK premises listed as ‘service stations’ by Beijing which are similar to sites in Europe that track dissidents and coerce them to go home
Dancers descended on Glasgow last month to mark the ancient 'Moon Festival'
The festivities culminated in a feast of Peking duck at the Loon Fung restaurant
The address shares a distinction with two ordinary properties 400 miles away
They appear on a list of overseas 'service stations' connected to police in China
Weaving through crowds to the hypnotic timbre of ceremonial drumming, brightly-coloured Chinese lion dancers descended on Glasgow last month to mark the ancient Chinese 'Moon Festival'.
Celebrating the autumn harvest, when the full moon is brightest, Glasgow's Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren welcomed guest of honour Hou Danna, China's Acting Consul General in Edinburgh, who gave a speech urging 'unity' between the 'Chinese community and . . . Scottish community'.
The festivities, hosted by local businessman Jimmy Lin, culminated in a feast of Peking duck and honey-roast pork at the Loon Fung restaurant. Loon Fung is a Glaswegian institution which has served dumplings for decades.
But next door to shuttered shops and the Nice N Sleazy bar, the restaurant's less-than-salubrious location of Sauchiehall Street has been marred for years by ructions between rival Chinese Triad gangs.
The address shares a peculiar distinction with two seemingly ordinary properties 400 miles away: the business premises of a food delivery app in Croydon, South London, and an estate agent on a High Street in Hendon, North London — both of which I visited this week.
Because what belies their everyday exteriors is that their addresses and telephone numbers appear on a list of overseas 'service stations' connected to police in China. So says a report by Madrid-based human rights NGO (non-governmental organisation) Safeguard Defenders, published last month.
The report highlighted 54 such illegal 'police stations' that have quietly flooded the world over five continents in a flagrant breach of international laws on extradition and cross-border arrests. The NGO described the situation as 'Chinese transnational policing gone wild'.
Named after the Chinese emergency number, the '110 Overseas' centres sell themselves as one-stop-shops for Chinese people abroad, offering legal advice, document processing and 'hotlines' to police back in China. Their true purpose, however, is a means for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to take the law into its own hands — no matter the jurisdiction — and to, in its own words 'resolutely crack down on various illegal and criminal activities involving overseas Chinese'.
They can and do catch genuine Chinese 'gangsters and scammers', and state officials boasted some 230,000 'fugitives' had been 'persuaded to return' between April 2021 and July this year.
But it begs the question: are all of these 'fugitives' common criminals? It is feared that many are political dissidents who fled China for daring to speak out against the communist regime. Some could be Hong Kong expatriates, Uighur refugees or legal citizens of another country.
Just last Sunday a Chinese government official — speaking on condition of anonymity — admitted the existence of the 'stations' and their role in 'pressuring criminals' to return to China.
An official from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Shanghai told the Spanish newspaper El Correo that: 'Bilateral treaties are very cumbersome and Europe is reluctant to extradite to China.'
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