More than 10,000 “Chinese who criticized the Party abroad” have already been forced to return home since

More than 10,000 “Chinese who criticized the Party abroad” have already been forced to return home since

Threats, kidnappings, and violations of sovereignty by Chinese authorities acting with impunity around the world

Article on April 20th, by Romi Tam

About Romi Tam (Born in Tokyo and graduated from Keio University. Currently resides in the United States. Former visiting professor at Keio University. Author of “That’s a Good Question! Japan-U.S.-China, Laughing Economy Frontline” (Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc.), “Teito Tokyo o Chugoku Kakumei de Odoru” (Walking in the Imperial Capital Tokyo with the Chinese Revolution) (Hakusuisha), “Kakumei wa nakarazu – Nichi-China Hyakunen no Gunzo” (The Night Before the War: Japan Loved by Rojin and Chiang Kai-shek) (both from Shinchosha) and many others.)

This would be an act that should be called a state-sponsored “kidnapping”.

 AFP (January 19) reported that a January 18 report revealed that China has been forcing nearly 10,000 Chinese living abroad to return home by coercive means since 2014.

 The report, compiled by the Spain-based Chinese rights group Safeguard Defenders, said that approximately 2,500 people have been forced to return home in the past two years by Chinese public security agencies for illegal activities outside the country, and 10,000 in the eight years since 2014.

The “Fox Hunt.”

 China is a member of the Interpol (ICPO: International Criminal Police Organization), which has the right to issue wanted warrants for criminals fleeing the country, but does not have the authority to send officers to other countries to arrest individuals or issue arrest warrants. In this report, the targets are not criminals, but primarily Chinese activists who have criticized China or organized anti-Chinese demonstrations abroad.

A closer examination of the Safeguard Defenders report (dated January 18, 2022) reveals a more detailed picture.

 According to the report, China’s State Inspection Commission, in accordance with Article 52 of the “Inspection Law,” classifies and tracks subjects living abroad as “Category 6” political offenders, and selects subjects for forced return from 120 countries under two operation names: “Operation Foxhunt” and “Operation Skynet. Originally, the system was designed to return corrupt officials and others who had fled abroad as part of an anti-corruption campaign, but in reality the system has gone beyond the scope of that law and is being used to forcibly return those who have criticized the Chinese Communist Party.

 There are three main means of forced return (1) pressure subjects to return home voluntarily by threatening relatives in China, expelling them from their workplaces, or detaining them; (2) police officials sent abroad induce the subjects to take them within China’s borders, on international high seas, in international airspace, or to third countries with extradition agreements, where they are arrested, detained, and forcibly deported; and (3) (4) kidnapping, detaining, and secretly deporting the subject. In some cases, a combination of these three methods may also be used.

 Among the returnees from Operation Skynet in 2018, 64% were forced to return involuntarily, and only 1% followed the regular extradition process. Nevertheless, the Chinese authorities are not always successful in their operations. Let us look at some specific examples of the three aforementioned methods.

Detaining Relatives in China

(1) Xie Yedong, a former judge of the Supreme Court of China, had openly criticized the Chinese criminal justice system after immigrating to Canada. In response, Chinese authorities criticized Xie for alleged corruption and attempted to have him return home voluntarily. When Xie refused, the authorities detained his sister and son, who were living in China, and also pressured his ex-wife, his longtime business partner, and the lawyer representing his sister to convince Xie that if he voluntarily returned home, he would be granted leniency.

 However, having served as a judge in China for many years, Xie knew exactly what would happen to him if he returned home. Therefore, he adamantly refused to return home.

(2) In late 2014, Chinese special agents in Australia attempted to intimidate Dong Feng, a Chinese-Australian, into returning home. Dong Feng, a Melbourne resident and travel agent, was a member of Falun Gong. The Chinese authorities’ special agency urged Dong Feng to return home and convinced him to leave Falun Gong and repent. Because of threats against his relatives in China, Dong Feng initially accepted the persuasion, but ultimately refused to return home and sought help from the Australian police. As a result, it was discovered that a Chinese special agency was operating in the dark in Australia, which led to a diplomatic row between Australia and China.

(3) Human rights activist Dong Guangping was convicted and imprisoned for three years for “subversion of state agitation” in 2000 and again in 2014, when he was sentenced to eight months in prison. Fearing further persecution, he fled to Thailand in 2015 and was granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

 However, while incarcerated at the Immigration Office in Bangkok while awaiting entry clearance from the Canadian government, Chinese authorities located him, handcuffed him in front of Thai officials, and took him away from the Immigration Office. After being transferred to China, he was convicted and served three years in prison and was released in 2019. Upon investigation, it was discovered that there was no official record of Dong Guangping’s departure from Thailand and that he was transported to China by some illegal means.

 Other people who disappeared in Thailand, including Hong Kong-based magazine reporter Li Xin, Burmese human rights activist Tang Zhishun, British citizen Li Po, and Swiss citizen Gui Minhai, were later found to have been detained on the Chinese mainland. Today, Uyghurs living in Europe are also targets.

After extradition, immediate “execution” is also possible.

 By the way, as of 2020, China has concluded “extradition treaties” with 59 countries around the world, and 50 Chinese criminals have already been extradited (People’s Net Japanese edition, October 26, 2020).

 Incidentally, looking at countries around the world, as of the same year 2000, Japan has concluded extradition treaties with 2 countries, France with 100 countries, the UK with 120 countries, the US with 70 countries, and South Korea with 25 countries. The main reason for the extremely low number of treaties concluded by Japan compared to other countries seems to be that Japan is a country that implements the death penalty.

 Another report (dated February 28, 2022) compiled by the aforementioned “Safeguard Defenders” reports that in the case of China, even in cases based on this extradition treaty, there are cases where criminals are severely condemned after being handed over to China.

 For example, China and Thailand have signed an extradition treaty between the two countries, which prohibits execution after extradition, but Wang Jianying, who was arrested in Thailand, was immediately executed after being transferred to China.

 In the case of Yang Feng, who was also arrested in Canada, he was executed without explanation after his extradition, despite official diplomatic assurances from China in response to the Canadian government’s request for protection of the offender’s human rights.

Even Japanese nationals are not immune from being treated as strangers.

 Of course, not all extradition cases lead to this outcome, but it is clear that China often violates international rules. It is not clear, moreover, how Chinese nationals who are illegally returned from abroad are subsequently treated, but follow-up investigations by “Safeguard Defenders” indicate that in many cases they are subjected to severe torture.

 While other countries are being forced to take countermeasures against infection and economic measures due to the coronary disaster, the number of illegal international activities conducted by Chinese authorities behind the scenes is said to be increasing every year. Now, just because it is the Chinese who are suddenly disappearing or being kidnapped from overseas, it is not something that can be left to others to worry about. There is no guarantee that this will not happen to foreigners who speak out against China at any time.

 The fact that Chinese authorities around the world are openly violating the sovereignty of other countries and acting with impunity in violation of international law is undoubtedly a serious international problem.

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