Dutch authorities said Wednesday they were investigating reports that China has set up two illegal police stations in the Netherlands which it uses to harass dissidents.
Dutch media reported that the police posts in Amsterdam and Rotterdam purported to offer diplomatic assistance, but that they had not been declared to the Netherlands.
China’s foreign ministry said the reports were “completely false” and said the “service stations” were meant to help overseas citizens do things like renew driving licences.
The two “police stations” set up since 2018 were being used to silence China’s political opponents, broadcaster RTL and investigative website Follow the Money said, quoting a Chinese dissident living in the Netherlands.
Their report followed an investigation by Spanish-based NGO Safeguard Defenders in September which said China had set up 54 overseas police centres around the world, including the two in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands said it was taking the claims “seriously”.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now investigating the activities of the so-called police centres. When we have more clarity about this, appropriate action will be taken,” Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman Maxime Hovenkamp told AFP.
“It is true that we have not been informed about the centres through diplomatic channels.”
The first Chinese office was opened in June 2018 in Amsterdam by the Lishui region police force, and is headed by two men who started their careers in the Chinese police force then moved to the Netherlands, RTL said.
It was named one of the ten best of the foreign Chinese police posts in an internal vote last year, it said.
– ‘Completely false’ –
Police in the Chinese city of Fuzhou opened a second officer earlier this year in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, run by a former soldier, according to the broadcaster.
Located in a non-descript house without any sign, a promotional video says the office helps to “crack down on local and illegal criminal activity in Fuzhou that has to do with overseas Chinese”, said RTL.
The Dutch broadcaster interviewed a man it said was a refugee dissident called Wang Jingyu, who said he was called by someone from the Rotterdam police office.
The man allegedly told Wang to return to China to “solve my problems” and to “think about my parents”. He later received text messages with swear words from the number of the Rotterdam station.
Wang then received threatening calls and messages after demonstrating in front of the Chinese embassy in June, he said.
The Dutch foreign ministry said there were “regular signals” from the Dutch Chinese community about receiving “intimidation and threats”, and that it was setting up a hotline.
“The ministers of justice and security and foreign affairs have taken note of the report of Safeguard Defenders and take the contents of the report seriously. It has our attention,” the Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
“The report is also known to the police and is taken seriously.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin dismissed the reports ,saying Beijing “fully” respects other countries’ judicial sovereignty.
“The relevant statements are completely false,” the spokesman told a regular briefing.
“The main purpose of the service stations is to help Chinese citizens there with their online renewals of Chinese drivers’ licences” and other services.