The strange case of the Chinese “secret police stations” in Italy

It’s a mystery. Still unresolved. The information comes from the Safeguard Defenders Foundationa non-governmental organization based in Madrid, which has recently denounced that China has installed a hundred “police stations secret” for persecute opponents in Europe and the United States. Peculiarity: 11 of these centers are located in Italythe nation with the highest number of these structures according to what is known to date, followed by Spain with nine.

The data comes from the investigations of Safeguard Defenders, which since September has been denouncing this unknown chinese network through various documents and reports. The last one, published these days, has revealed the presence of these centers in Rome, Milan, bolzano, Venice, Florence, Pratowhere the largest Chinese community in Italy lives, and on the island of Sicily.

Furthermore: Italy would also have been a kind of country laboratory. So much so that it is here that the first of the structures identified in the world was opened. happened in 2016when the police department of the Wenzhou jurisdiction opened a center in the city of Milan. Later, the jurisdictions of Qingtian and Fuzhou would follow in Wenzhou’s footsteps.

ambiguous attitude

To date, the behavior of the Italian authorities has been ambiguous. In September, the Italian Ministry of the Interior under the government of Mario Draghi (then in power) said that the activities of these offices had “no particular relevance”. Issue resolved? No. At least for some Italian parliamentarians, signatories in the past months of a parliamentary question in which they have asked for explanations on the matter.

One unknown is whether the Italian authorities were “fully” aware of the scope of the operations carried out by China, he says Laura Hart, director of Safeguard Defenders, asked by EL PERIÓDICO. Finally, only after the latest allegations were made public, the Italian Government has reported the opening of an investigation. “We are checking. If there are irregularities, we do not exclude sanctions“, said the current Minister of the Interior, Matteo Piantedosi.

The accusations against Beijing are serious. According to Safeguard Defenders, one of the main tasks of these centers would be intimidate and provoke the forced repatriation of dissidents. Safeguard Defenders has even stated that it has evidence of some specific cases such as that of a laborer accused of embezzlement who returned to China after 13 years in Italy and whose trace was then lost.

security risk

beijing ha rejected all accusations since the first news became public knowledge. In October, Mao Ning, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asserted that “Chinese public security authorities strictly observe international law and fully respect the judicial sovereignty from other countries.” Other spokespersons have also made similar statements.

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The matter is not trivial because the chinese community in Italy it is not inconsiderable in size. According to the ISTAT statistics center, it is made up of 330,000 people. In addition, Italy has signed various agreements with Beijing over the years, including the pact to enter the so-called New Silk Road in 2019, something that at the time was received with misgivings by Brussels. In addition, Giulio Terzi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, has suggested that the existence of these Chinese centers on Italian soil could represent a security risk.

The reason is that, in recent years, the transalpine country has also shown signs of openness to Chinese law enforcement, which was praised by Beijing. Hence, for example, the Italian-Chinese joint patrols in Rome, Milan and Naples, launched in 2016, supposedly to fight organized crime. In other cases, the content of the agreements signed between the two countries was not made public, proof that the mysteries of the case are still many.

The strange case of the Chinese “secret police stations” in Italy