The Chinese government has been accused of establishing at least two undeclared “police stations” in the Netherlands, a media reported.
The media report cited evidence that the “overseas service stations”, which promise to provide diplomatic services, are being used to try to silence Chinese dissidents in Europe.
A spokesperson for the Dutch Foreign Ministry said the existence of the unofficial police outposts is illegal, the BBC reported.
The Chinese embassy however, said that it was not aware of their existence.
The investigation was sparked by a report by the Spain-based NGO Safeguard Defenders.
According to the organisation, the public security bureaus from two Chinese provinces had established 54 “overseas police service centres” across five continents and 21 countries.
Most of them are in Europe, including nine in Spain and four in Italy. In the UK, it found two in London and one in Glasgow.
The units were ostensibly created to tackle transnational crime and conduct administrative duties, such as the renewal of Chinese drivers’ licences. But, according to Safeguard Defenders, in reality they carry out “persuasion operations”, aimed at coercing those suspected of speaking out against the Chinese regime to return home.
RTL News and the investigative journalism platform Follow the Money shared the story of Wang Jingyu, a Chinese dissident who said he was being pursued by Chinese police in the Netherlands.
Speaking in English, Wang told Dutch journalists he received a phone call earlier this year from someone claiming to be from one such station.
During the conversation, he said he was urged to return to China to “sort out my problems. And to think about my parents.”