Concerns have grown about the close ties between the Australian Federal Police and Chinese law enforcement after it was revealed that a secret Beijing-backed overseas police station was located in Sydney, Australia.
A police “service station” was set up in 2018 by the Public Security Bureau of the Chinese city of Wenzhou, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Oct. 13.
According to a report released by the international human rights group Safeguard Defenders, the Sydney liaison office is seeking to establish a network of bureaus around the world to suppress dissidents globally. It is part of the efforts of
September report “110 Overseas: China’s cross-border police operations run amok (pdf),” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) warned that it had set up “overseas police service centers” run by at least 54 police forces across five continents.
“Persuaded to return” to China
While these bureaus ostensibly serve administrative purposes, such as extending China’s driver’s licenses and processing official documents, they have a “more The report points out that it has “evil goals.”
From April 2021 to July 2022, an estimated 230,000 overseas Chinese were “persuaded to return” to China and faced criminal charges. “Persuasion to return” includes harassment and intimidation of the target’s relatives in China.
In 2014, Melbourne-based Dong Feng, a practitioner of Falun Gong, a persecuted spiritual practice in China, said: “persuaded” by Chinese police to return to China to face court.
Australian officials were not informed about the matter in advance, which forced the former Abbott administration to do so. Summon Chinese diplomats meet and officials express “deep concern” about the “unacceptable” undercover operation.
History of the Australian Federal Police and Beijing
An extradition treaty between Australia and China was shelved in 2017 over human rights concerns, but was signed by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) the same year. some agreement With China’s Ministry of Public Security on targeting cross-border crime and cooperation.
2018, AFP signed the memorandum With the China National Supervisory Commission on “Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Cooperation”.
In 2019, AFP celebrated 20 years of cooperation with the Beijing police.
Then-AFP Deputy Commissioner Neil Gogan emphasized “how important this relationship is in creating a safer and more secure region and in protecting our nation from mutual criminal threats.” Did.
“AFP was the first law enforcement agency to be invited to China, and we have worked together strongly and productively across a wide range of serious cross-border organized crimes,” Gaughan said. . Said in a statement.
“We are successful and look forward to building on this success over the next 20 years.”
‘Absolutely Unacceptable’: Defense Experts
AFP’s close ties with Chinese police have raised concerns from some experts.
“AFP’s relationship with China’s law enforcement agencies has not kept pace with changes in the Chinese state’s behavior and direction over the past five years,” defense expert Michael Shubridge told the Epoch Times in an email. said in “This is a police relationship that must be reevaluated.”
The former director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said the current problem for AFP was the revelations of Beijing’s actions regarding “massive domestic surveillance and repression”.
“That is demonstrated by the recent uncovered presence of China’s ‘overseas police outreach’ activities in more than 80 cities around the world, including Australia.”
“Chinese police are using methods that are totally unacceptable in Australia, and they also serve as a key close weapon for Xi Jinping’s repressive authoritarian regime, as we have illustrated with the Hong Kong takeover. .
“It does not fit well with the way Australian police operate within a system of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”
Laura Harth, campaign director for Safeguard Defenders, also voiced concerns.
“The discovery of a police service station set up by the county-level public security bureau in cooperation with the United Front Work Organization is just the latest in the CCP’s increasingly brazen and illegal cross-border policing,” she said. told The Times in an email.
” Bland endorsement of practices by Shanghai officials to Spanish newspaper El Correo No surprise for those who followed us Involuntary Returns Report This highlights how illegal “persuasion to return home” methods have become standard practice under written legal interpretations from China’s National Supervisory Commission – Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspections. Did. Australian Federal Police Cooperation agreement with after December 2018“
Meanwhile, Shoebridge also warned Australian officials of the Solomon Islands’ current involvement with Chinese police, which indicated that the Pacific government had sent police officers to China for “training.”
“It is very difficult to tell [Prime Minister] Sogavale in the Solomon Islands should not be associated with the same police that AFP admires as partners,” he said.
“It is time to reassess and end the cooperative relationship between AFP and China’s Ministry of Public Security.
The Epoch Times contacted the Home Office and was referred to AFP.
AFP and the Australian Security Intelligence Agency said they had no comment on the matter.
The Epoch Times has reached out to former Defense Minister Peter Dutton, former Home Secretary Karen Andrews and former Foreign Minister Maris Payne about the Morrison administration’s awareness of the Chinese police station in Sydney while in office. No one responded in time for publication.