Chilean diplomacy has been in an uproar since it became known that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has installed a police center in Viña del Mar, one of its main tourist cities. 

The information comes from Safeguard Defenders, an organization linked to human rights, which also exposed the existence of 54 Chinese secret and informal police services in 25 cities in 21 countries worldwide.

One of these police centers reportedly began operating in Viña del Mar, 76 miles (122 km) from the Chilean capital, Santiago de Chile, and one of the country’s most important tourist attractions.

Chilean media reported that the Chinese police centers had been set up to locate Chinese citizens who had left China and force them to return. They have the additional objective of exerting influence over and silencing those who oppose the CCP.

These centers became known by overseas Chinese as “overseas 110″ service stations, referring to the Chinese police emergency number.

Although on the surface, these “service stations” have the mission of helping the Chinese communities abroad, the report claims that they have “a much more sinister and totally illegal purpose” based on “persuasion operations” to coerce those suspected of speaking out against the CCP to return home.

The center located in Chile was installed on Von Schroeders street, in Viña del Mar, and the media BioBio Chile was able to verify that it looks like a warehouse. 

The property has a sign that warns that it is under 24-hour surveillance, and according to the first investigations, it belongs to a Chinese company in the area. Furthermore, neighbors of the place confirmed that they had seen the constant entry and exit of Chinese people to the property. 

Reactions in Chile

The Chinese Embassy in Chile acknowledged installing one of these “stations” in the country. Still, it downplayed the fact, denying that it is a secret police station, and defended itself by assuring that they have no need or intention to deploy “secret police” abroad.

In response to the scandal, the Chinese embassy in Chile said: “Regarding the alleged ‘Chinese secret police station in Chile’ mentioned in that report, in reality, it is a service center for Chinese abroad.'”

They further tried to soften the fact by stating that given the distance between the two countries and the traffic affected by the pandemic, many Chinese citizens in Chile cannot return to the country in time to carry out specific procedures such as renewing identity cards and driver’s licenses. 

These centers could also serve these issues; the embassy defended itself.

The Chilean government’s Interior Minister, Carolina Tohá, confirmed that an investigation is underway. 

Tohá also emphasized that the case has an “international character” and that the government is willing and active to collaborate in whatever necessary way.

In the investigation carried out by the BioBio Chile media, there is a detail of the secret Chinese police stations revealed in the report, including the one in Viña del Mar with the address and a reference telephone number.

BioBio further states that by tracing the phone number on social networks, it found that, until a few months ago, the number in question was associated with a Chinese restaurant in the area.

Upon dialing the phone number, the call was answered by a man of Chinese nationality with limited Spanish who claimed to work in another restaurant in the city.

Curiously, this restaurant’s owners are also the property owners reported as the overseas police “service center.” 

This type of curiosity and way of operating seems to be repeated in other parts of the world where these clandestine Chinese police stations are also denounced.

Chinese police bases around the world

Following the news that the CCP had established dozens of police bases abroad, the American news agency The Associated Press carried out a similar task to that of BioBio Chile but in different parts of the world.

With the same objective, it visited some of the places identified by Safeguard Defenders in Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona.

In these places, they found a massage parlor, the Spanish headquarters of an association of Qingtian citizens, and a company that provides legal translation services. But as in Chile, none of the sites were able to corroborate the existence of activity directly related to police bases.

However, some evidence suggests that police bases do, or did, operate underground.

A worker at the Barcelona-based translation company confirmed to AP News in detail that a Fuzhou Overseas Police Service Station operated on the premises for a few weeks this year.

Separately, an investigation by Portuguese television detailed that one of the sites mentioned in the report, located in an industrial complex in northern Portugal, was apparently an automobile workshop operated by a Chinese man.

As expected, the man denied any connection with the CCP. Still, the Portuguese news station showed him in a video promoting the Beijing Winter Olympics and claimed he heads a local association that helps Chinese immigrants.

In Hungary, Chinese police bases seem more out in the open. Well-known lawmaker Marton Tompos told AP News that one of the two locations in Budapest had a sign reading “Qingtian Overseas Police Station.”

Tompos said he could not contact anyone associated with the sites and that the sign had been removed when he revisited them days later.

It needs to be clarified what the real purpose of these police bases is. What is undoubted is the arrogance and lack of moral codes that the Chinese regime has, to the point of allowing itself to quietly penetrate abroad and carry out intelligence work illegally and bypass all kinds of protocols, permissions, and dialogues.

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