Canadian authorities have launched a probe into allegations that China was operating two ‘police stations’ in Montreal to harass Chinese citizens living in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the nation was “very concerned” and was taking the allegations seriously.
“We’re in the process of making sure the RCMP is following up on this and that our intelligence systems are taking this seriously,” Mr Trudeau said on Thursday.
“We are carrying out police actions aimed at detecting and disrupting these foreign state-backed criminal activities, which may threaten the safety of persons living in Canada,” a statement by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Thursday.
This was not the first of such stations as the RCMP had been previously alerted to three so-called Chinese-operated police service stations allegedly functioning in Toronto last October.
Spain-based human rights organisation, Safeguard Defenders, brought the attention of the RCMP to the service stations in Toronto last year.
The group had said 100 similar stations, backed by China, were strategically located in at least 53 nations including the U.S., UK and Netherlands to “harass, threaten, intimidate and force targets to return to China for persecution” according to its 2022 report.
The probe has stirred fresh concerns into claims that China was unduly meddling in Canadian domestic affairs, especially in light of underlying speculations that Beijing had tried to sway Canada’s previous elections.
While urging additional victims to come forward with their complaints, the federal police claimed to have already received at least 15 useful tips regarding the unlawfully run police stations.
“We’re currently at 15 serious tips received in relation to the presumed Chinese police stations in Montreal and Brossard,” Charles Poirier, RCMP sergeant, said on Monday.
“We’re at the analysis stage of these tips and once again we encourage all the victims and witnesses of illegal activities, and all the individuals being affected by pressures, intimidation, or threats to reach out to us.”
The Chinese embassy in Canada, had admitted there were “overseas service stations” but only to help its citizens abroad in renewing documents like driver’s licence and offer assistance where necessary.