Germany has called on China to close illegal overseas police stations that German authorities suspect are being used by the government in Beijing to control and intimidate Chinese expatriates living abroad.
Germany has been in talks with the Chinese government since November about shutting down the operations, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Andrea Sasse told reporters in Berlin on Monday.
In February, the Chinese government denied that it was operating illegal police stations on German territory, Sasse said. However, Beijing did acknowledge that it was running so-called service stations in Germany, which it promised to close.
Despite the pledge, China still maintains at least two mobile police stations in Germany whose activities are carefully watched by local authorities, Interior Ministry Spokesman Maximilian Kall said at the conference.
“The security authorities are closely monitoring these activities as well as other activities of foreign states in Germany. And this applies in particular and especially to these overseas police stations,” Kall said. “These are usually not fixed, stationary offices but mobile facilities.”
Germany is liaising closely with the US and other European Union member states on the matter and on how to address the extraterritorial activities of Chinese security authorities more broadly, Sasse said. Berlin is also in ongoing talks with China about the issue, she added.
“The Chinese government has always upheld international law and respected the sovereignty and jurisdiction of all countries,” according to an embassy statement. “The Chinese Embassy in Germany has repeatedly reiterated these facts and our position to the relevant German authorities. It remains for us to expect that the German side will deal with this objectively and leave no room for further speculation.”
According to Kall, China’s overseas police stations are often linked to employees of Chinese security agencies. The concern is not about closing traditional police stations, Kall added, but rather about convincing people involved to stop engaging in illegal overseas activities.
In April, the US Department of Justice charged two Chinese nationals with seeking to set up an overseas police station in New York on behalf of the Fuzhou branch of China’s Ministry of Public Security.