Recently, the "police stations" that China has established in Canada have been a source of concern in Ottawa. The Canadian government has confirmed that it has repeatedly summoned the Chinese ambassador to request an end to these activities. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has emphasized that the government will ensure that the nation's citizens are not subject to foreign government interference or impacted in their daily lives.
In October of this year, international human rights organization Safeguard Defenders released a report revealing that China has set up at least 54 "police stations" in 30 countries around the world, three of which are located in the Greater Toronto area of Canada.
Since this information was made public, it has garnered significant attention. Weldon Epp, the director of the Northeast Asia department of Canada's Global Affairs department, explained at a meeting of the Canada-China Relations Committee that Ottawa takes this matter very seriously. He stated, "We have had multiple contacts with the Chinese side, summoning the ambassador multiple times to express our deep concerns. The Canadian government has formally demanded that the Chinese government, including the ambassador and embassy, be held accountable for any activities within Canada that are not part of the Vienna Convention and ensure that these activities are stopped."
The Chinese embassy in Canada issued a statement saying that the purpose of the service stations is to provide free services such as vision and hearing exams, as well as physical examinations, to Chinese citizens living abroad. This is meant to make it easier for them to replace driver's licenses and other documents.
According to the Vienna Convention, consular and administrative services should be provided by embassies and consulates.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Trudeau also reiterated, "The government will take action and our intelligence agencies are working hard every day to ensure that Canadian citizens or residents are not subject to interference from foreign governments."
Safeguard Defenders has pointed out that the "police stations" are used by the Chinese authorities to monitor, suppress, and repatriate Chinese citizens who do not comply with the policies of the Chinese Communist Party. The organization has emphasized that these actions violate the sovereignty of host countries and the rights of Chinese citizens.
There have been multiple instances of China coercing Canada in recent years. One notable example occurred in December 2018, when China arrested two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on espionage charges. This was widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.
In addition, China has used its economic power to put pressure on Canada. In March 2019, China suspended imports of Canadian canola, citing concerns about pests. This move was widely seen as punishment for Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou.
China has also used its diplomatic influence to try to silence criticism of its actions. In 2019, the Chinese ambassador to Canada publicly criticized two Canadian MPs for expressing support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
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