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Safeguard Defenders

  • 12 Sep, 2022
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230,000 Chinese nationals “persuaded to return” to face criminal proceedings in China: Safeguard Defenders


This latest installment in Safeguard Defenders’ Investigation series takes a deep dive into the Chinese police’s expanding global policing toolkit by examining a seemingly recent campaign to counter transnational telecom and online fraud (according to the official provincial statements) by several provinces in the People’s Republic of China.

As part of a massive nationwide campaign to combat the growing issue of fraud and telecommunication fraud by Chinese nationals living abroad, Chinese authorities claim that from April 2021 to July 2022, 230,000 nationals had been “persuaded to return” to face criminal proceedings in China.

This campaign, which started on a humble scale in 2018, has developed alongside the establishment of overseas Chinese police “service stations”, sometimes called “110 Overseas” after the national police emergency phone number, now found in dozens of countries across five continents. This investigation looks into these two related and recent developments, especially in view of the expansion of other forms of long-arm policing and transnational repression by the PRC.

This investigation follows the release of new Chinese governmental data and is part of Safeguard Defenders’ ongoing monitoring of China’s growing global transnational repression.

Faced with a growing issue of fraud and telecommunication fraud by Chinese nationals living abroad, China claims 230,000 suspects of fraud and telecom fraud were successfully “persuaded to return” to China from April 2021 to July 2022.

Official statements detail use of depriving suspects’ children the right to education back in China, as well as other actions against relatives and family members, in a full-on “guilt by association” campaign.

China has designated nine countries as having serious fraud, telecom fraud and web crimes, and Chinese nationals are no longer allowed to stay in those countries without “good reason”.

Rapidly emerging evidence points to extensive online campaigns and the use of “Overseas Police Service Stations” being used in these operations on five continents, often using local “Chinese Overseas Home Associations” linked to the CCP’s United Front Work.

These operations eschew official bilateral police and judicial cooperation and violate the international rule of law, and may violate the territorial integrity of third countries involved in setting up a parallel policing mechanism using illegal methods.

Read the full report here

By Team TRC