A human rights organization: In an external crackdown, China forcibly brings in 10,000 of its citizens

A report by a Spain-based human rights organization said that Beijing has brought about 10,000 Chinese citizens from outside the country since 2014, using coercive and extra-legal means.

The Spain-based organization Safeguard Defenders said that this figure may be only the “tip of the iceberg”, at a time when China “aggressively” pursues its nationals abroad.

The report claimed that China is strengthening its security capabilities outside its borders and carrying out illegal operations on foreign soil, targeting persons officially wanted for justice in China as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

But the NGO details cases of people who criticized the Chinese Communist Party abroad, and whose relatives were harassed and detained inside the country in order to force them to return.

Through two programs called Operation Fox Hunt and Operation Skynet, the targeted people were pressured to return to China against their will, through a combination of illegal methods including kidnapping, harassment and intimidation, the report said.

The report added that after “the growth of the Chinese diaspora at an unprecedented rate, with more people seeking to leave China (…) Beijing has not been motivated more than ever to expand the powers of its security forces abroad.”

Safeguard Defenders, based on Chinese government data, estimates that about 10,000 Chinese nationals have been forcibly returned since 2014.

Official anti-corruption agency figures show that Beijing has returned about 2,500 targeted individuals in the past two years.

The figures do not include suspects arrested for non-economic crimes, or who are not affiliated with China’s ruling Communist Party.

The organization noted that Chinese nationals are sometimes lured to a third country linked to criminal exchange agreements with China.

Beijing has previously been accused of carrying out several kidnappings abroad. In 2015, bookseller Gui Minhai was kidnapped in Thailand to later appear in a Chinese prison, and two years later, billionaire Jiao Jianhao disappeared from his hotel in Hong Kong and is also believed to be detained in China.

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