The RCMP visited the friendly community of Richmond to investigate the Chinese 'police' office

Human rights groups accuse a station in Vancouver of being used for 'suasion to return' operation

A sorority of friends in Richmond, B.C., has been the focus of the RCMP's investigation of alleged secret Chinese "police" offices operating in Canada.

Officers visited the Wenzhou Canada Friendship Society on Saturday and conducted interviews with people living nearby in the southern suburbs of Vancouver.

CBC spoke to neighbors who confirmed RCMP officers spoke to them, asking if they saw anything suspicious, and that an unmarked cruiser was still parked outside the building on Tuesday.

The police activity comes after Spanish human rights group Safeguard Defenders published a report revealing the existence of two additional Chinese "police service offices" operating in Canada, including one in the Vancouver area. Three other stations in the Toronto area are already under police investigation. Defense Defenders accused the station of engaging in a "suasion to return" operation. The group said evidence showed individuals connected to these stations had been involved in convincing nationals suspected of crimes to return to China to face criminal proceedings.

Mounties would not say why they were investigating the Wenzhou Friendship Society of Canada specifically but sent out a statement saying they were investigating "criminal activity in so-called 'police stations' nationwide."

The statement acknowledged that Canadian Chinese were the targets of these alleged crimes.

"The RCMP takes threats to the security of individuals living in Canada very seriously and recognizes that a foreign country may seek to intimidate or harm Canadian communities or individuals," the statement said.

'Absolutely ridiculous'

Vancouver activist Mabel Tung said the Chinese dissidents she worked with in the region were not surprised by the accusations, and many were facing threats. To him, these stations felt like open bullying by the Chinese Communist Party.

"If you dare say anything against them, we have the tools... to be able to do something about you and your family in China," he said.

The existence of these centers has been reported by Chinese state-owned media, which call them workshops, intended to assist Chinese nationals in non-criminal matters such as eye exams for driver's license renewals.

But Tung doesn't believe the explanation.

"I don't believe them because it has been done for the last few years... through the Chinese Consulate," he said. "This is absolutely ridiculous from my point of view."

No one in the community answered the door when CBC knocked this week, and voicemails were not returned.

The community's website says it strengthens ties between people from Wenzhou and Canada. Members come together to celebrate and discuss entrepreneurship while proudly supporting the Chinese government.

The group's outreach has expanded into Canadian politics as well, and has hosted dinners with guests such as Liberal MPs Wilson Miao and the Richmond Coun. Chak Au.

In an email, Miao's constituency office said she receives a number of invitations to events every year and appreciates the support but understands the need to protect the public from threats of foreign interference.

Au said that his participation in social events organized by certain groups "does not mean that I support whatever they do."

Canada's Wenzhou Friendship Society has made headlines before for allegations of offering money to vote in three cities of Metro Vancouver during the 2018 civil election. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS

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