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The Guardian: China's unofficial 'police stations' operate across Italy

5-12-2022 |

Italy hosts the highest number of unofficial Chinese “police stations” out of a network of more than 100 around the world, a report by a Spanish civil rights group has claimed.

The northern Italian city of Milan was allegedly used by two local Chinese public security authorities as a European testing ground for a policing strategy to monitor the Chinese population abroad and force dissidents to return home.

The Madrid-based Safeguard Defenders reported in September that 54 such stations allegedly existed around the world, prompting police investigations in at least 12 countries including Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.

In a report published on Monday, the civil rights group said it had identified 48 additional stations, 11 of which are in Italy. Other newly identified stations were in Croatia, Serbia and Romania, it said.

The Italian stations are in Rome, Milan, Bolzano, Venice, Florence, Prato – a town near Florence that hosts the largest Chinese community in Italy – and Sicily.

The civil rights group alleges that the unofficial police stations are used by China to “harass, threaten, intimidate and force targets to return to China for persecution”.

Italy, which is home to 330,000 Chinese citizens, according to 2021 figures from Istat, the national statistics agency, is fertile ground for potential Beijing influence owing to myriad agreements between the two countries. Among these is a joint police patrol scheme, first signed off in 2015, under which Chinese police patrol Italian cities for temporary periods, ostensibly to assist Chinese tourists.

The report notes that “despite having the largest number of liaison outposts on its soil, the Italian government is among the very few European countries that has not yet publicly announced an investigation into the Chinese overseas police stations or declared their illegality”.

Источник: The Guardian