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Serbia, Croatia, Deny Allowing Chinese Police Coercive Powers

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Serbian and Croatian police have denied claims made by a Madrid-based NGO that they allowed Chinese police to harass and intimidate Chinese nationals in their countries.

Police ministries in Serbia and Croatia have denied allowing China to operate de facto “police stations” in their countries that have coercive powers over local Chinese nationals, and harrass and intimidate them.

They reacted following claims.by the Madrid-based human rights campaigner Safeguard Defenders, which on Sunday said it had found evidence that China was operating 48 additional “police services centres” abroad since the group first revealed the existence of 54 such stations in September.

Both countries insisted that while they had run joint police patrols with Chinese police, these had no coercive aspect to them at all and mainly concerned Chinese tourists.

Serbia’s Interior Ministry said on Sunday that, based on the Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Public Security of China on joint police patrols, signed on May 19, 2019, six Chinese police officers had been present for joint patrols, for only one month, from September 17 to October 16, 2019.

“”According to the … Memorandum, the task of the police officers from China in joint patrols was to help the police officers of Serbia in the protection of public order and security and to facilitate the contact of their compatriots and organizations with the police of the Republic of Serbia, as well as with the diplomatic and consular authorities of their country,” a press release said.

“Based on the Memorandum, they [Chinese officers] did not have the right to use coercive means even then,” it stressed.

“We believe that such allegations and unfounded claims harm relations between the two countries of Serbia and China, as well as the cooperation that has always been at a high level,” it added.

Croatia’s Interior Ministry on Sunday likewise said Chinese police officers were stationed in Croatia only for communications purposes with Chinese tourists.

“The police directorate … does not have any data on the existence or operation of illegal police stations in Zagreb or Croatia,” ministry spokeswoman Jelena Bikic told Hina news agency.

Chinese police officers were in Croatia “with the aim of facilitating communication with Chinese tourists for one month”, she explained.

Since 2018, during the summer months, Chinese police officers have been participating in the Croatian “Safe Tourist Destination” project.

But during 2020 and 2021, no Chinese police officers visited Croatia, and in 2022 there were eight of them, according to the MUP.

Safeguard Defenders claims that a Chinese citizen was coerced into returning home by operatives working undercover in a Chinese overseas police station in a Paris suburb, expressly recruited for that purpose, and that two more Chinese exiles were forcibly returned from Europe – one from Serbia, the other from Spain.

Source: balkaninsight

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