By Lily Zhou
An unofficial Chinese police station in Dublin has been told to shut down, the Irish government confirmed on Wednesday.
Safeguard Defenders, a human rights NGO that uncovered the existence of the overseas Chinese police stations last month, applauded the Irish government for taking a “great first step” while urging it to investigate “the wider issue at stake.”
The so-called service station, which shares an address with a Chinese supermarket in Dublin, is one of the dozens of such stations peppered around Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, according to a Safeguard Defenders report published on Nov. 13.
The programme, piloted by the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB), is dubbed “110 Overseas” after the Chinese national police emergency phone number.
According to Chinese language reports, Chinese expats can call to access services such as document renewal or to report cases such as fraud to PSB officers in China.
‘Compliance with International Law’
In a statement emailed to The Epoch Times, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it had told the Chinese embassy to close the station in Dublin and was told that its activities had ceased.
A DFA spokesperson said the department had raised the issue with the Chines embassy in recent weeks as neither the Chinese authorities nor Fuzhou/Fujian Province had made a request in advance to set up the police station.
“The Department noted that actions of all foreign states on Irish territory must be in compliance with international law and domestic law requirements. On this basis, the Department informed the Embassy that the office on Capel Street should close and cease operations. The Chinese Embassy has now stated that the activities of the office have ceased,” the statement reads.
The spokesperson added that the DFA will continue to liaise with the embassy to facilitate consular and citizen services to Chinese citizens in Ireland.
The Chinese embassy didn’t respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment, but according to The Irish Times, the embassy said in a statement that the station had been set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide driving licence renewal services and that the services had moved online.
The online Overseas 110 website, reportedly launched in June, provides access to document renewal as well as reporting by phone, email, and Wechat.
According to a Chinese-language news report published in January, the Capel Street station was one of the 30 “first batch” stations established around the world.
The report said the stations were set up to help Chinese expats from Fuzhou and to crack down on criminal activities among overseas Chinese nationals.
‘Illegal Transnational Policing Campaigns’
Safeguard Defenders’s report said the programme was set up after the launch of “a massive nationwide campaign to combat the growing issue of fraud and telecommunication fraud by Chinese nationals living abroad” in 2018.
The report also said authorities of the communist regime claimed that 230,000 Chinese nationals had been “persuaded to return” to face criminal proceedings in China between April 2021 and July 2022.
The NGO said innocent people have also been targeted with the persuasion tactics because they live in one of nine “forbidden” countries that are designated by the authorities as hotbeds of fraud.
Laura Harth, campaign director at Safeguard Defenders, told The Epoch Times on Thursday that the NGO is “quite happy” that the Irish government took immediate action but warned of the “bigger issue of the transnational repression going on and these kinds of illegal transnational policing campaigns.”
“As long as the people that were running the station are still there, as long as there’s not an investigation into how these operations are being carried out, who might be involved, as long as there’s not adequate protection mechanisms for the communities at risk, the problem will continue to exist,” Harth said.
“So it’s a great first step, but we hope and encourage, [and] call upon the Irish authorities to actually go and investigate the wider issue at stake here,” she added.
The Irish government is the first to confirm it has ordered the closure of a Chinese overseas police station.
Authorities in other countries, including Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands, have also started investigating the police stations.
Harth welcomed the investigations into the stations and wider issues involving Chinese agents.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against 10 Chinese intelligence officers and officials over three separate cases, including one involving allegedly coercing a Chinese dissident to return to China.
The UK government on Oct. 18 introduced legislation which, if becomes law, will require foreign agents to register their activities in the UK.