Security minister Tom Tugendhat warns China on 'police stations' in UK

Security minister Tom Tugendhat warns China that operating sinister ‘police stations’ in the UK is ‘unacceptable’

Security minister Tom Tugendhat today issued a stark warning to China that operating sinister ‘police stations’ in the UK will not be tolerated.

The message came after a government probe into claims that Beijing was running three sites in the UK, in Croydon, Glasgow and Hendon.

Although they were claimed to be supporting Chinese nationals abroad, concerns were raised that they were actually geared to scare and control dissenters.   

In a written statement to MPs this afternoon, Mr Tugendhat said the investigation had not uncovered any law-breaking.

But he said they were established without permission and would have ‘worried and intimidated’ Chinese community. Beijing has apparently now closed the sites.   

‘The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office have told the Chinese Embassy that any functions related to such ‘police service stations’ in the UK are unacceptable and that they must not operate in any form,’ Mr Tugendhat said.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat today issued a stark warning to China that operating sinister ‘police stations’ in the UK will not be tolerated

‘The Chinese Embassy have subsequently responded that all such stations have closed permanently. Any further allegations will be swiftly investigated in line with UK law.’

He added: ‘Reports by the non-governmental organisation Safeguard Defenders claimed that there were three Chinese ‘police service stations’ in the UK – in Croydon, Glasgow, and Hendon. Further allegations have been made about an additional site in Belfast.

‘These reports alleged that, whilst these ‘police service stations’ are officially set up in countries across the world to conduct administrative tasks to support Chinese nationals residing abroad, they are also used to monitor and harass diaspora communities and, in some cases, to coerce people to return to China outside of legitimate channels.

‘The police have visited each of the locations identified by Safeguard Defenders, and carefully looked into these allegations to consider whether any laws have been broken and whether any further action should be taken. 

‘I can confirm that they have not, to date, identified any evidence of illegal activity on behalf of the Chinese state across these sites. We assess that police and public scrutiny have had a suppressive impact on any administrative functions these sites may have had.

‘However, these ‘police service stations’ were established without our permission and their presence, regardless of whatever low level administrative activity they were performing, will have worried and intimidated those who have left China and sought safety and freedom here in the UK. This is unacceptable.

‘The Chinese authorities regularly criticise others for what they see as interference in their internal affairs. Yet, they felt able to open unattributed sites without consulting the UK Government. It is alleged that this was a pattern repeated around the world.’

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