The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Nationwide probe launched into secret Chinese ‘police stations’ in South Korea

By Kim Arin

Published : June 16, 2023 - 16:00

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South Korean authorities said Thursday they are looking into unofficially set up Chinese “police stations” across the country after the alleged presence of such an entity came under scrutiny in Seoul earlier this year.

The National Intelligence Service, together with the police, are probing suspected activities of covertly operating “police stations” for the Chinese government, not just in Seoul but in other regions, including Jeju Island south of the peninsula.

Last month, the intelligence service reached a tentative conclusion that a Chinese restaurant in central Seoul’s Songpa-gu was acting as a base for undeclared police operations for Beijing.

Findings disclosed by ruling People Power Party Rep. Choe Jae-hyeong on Thursday showed the Confucius Institutes run by the Chinese government allegedly spread propaganda on behalf of Beijing and staged activities to counter student activities supporting Hong Kong democracy movements at South Korean universities.

According to Safeguard Defenders, a nongovernmental organization based in Spain, China is allegedly running more than 100 police stations in at least 53 countries with the goal of expanding its influence and forcibly repatriating Chinese nationals.

Chinese officials have repeatedly denied the existence of such police stations overseas.

In a May 15 press briefing, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wang Wengbin reiterated that there are “no so-called overseas police stations” and that such accusations were “disinformation ... smearing and discrediting China.”

Wang admitted there were institutions helping Chinese nationals in other countries return home amid the pandemic, but said that they were “not so-called police stations or police service centers.”

“China always upholds the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, strictly observes international law and respects the judicial sovereignty of all countries,” he said.