Government asked if ‘embarrassment’ over support from businessman linked to alleged Croydon station slowing action
Labour has accused the government of going slow on an investigation into alleged Chinese police stations in the UK after it was reported that one was operating from the office of a Conservative activist, who had been pictured at party fundraisers with then prime ministers Boris Johnson and Theresa May.
Yvette Cooper, speaking in the Commons, called on ministers to explain why the UK had not shut down the so-called police stations allegedly operating in London and Glasgow despite announcing an investigation in November and in the aftermath of arrests made by the FBI earlier this week relating to another in New York.
The shadow home secretary highlighted that a businessman, Ruiyou Lin, who was linked to an alleged overseas police station operating from an office block in Croydon, had also been a guest at Conservative fundraising dinners and “attended events with Conservative prime ministers”.
Cooper then pressed the minister present to explain “what they have done” about “the alleged secret police station in Croydon and elsewhere” and whether “its operations been closed down”. The Labour MP said that “a lack of answers” would raise concerns that there was a “fear of party political embarrassment”.
Lin, a British national, is chairman of the All Eat takeaway app service that operates from the same office as the alleged Chinese overseas police station, according to a list of over 100 worldwide compiled by Safeguard Defenders. The list also includes addresses matching an estate agent in Hendon, north London, and a restaurant in Glasgow.
The businessman is also a Conservative activist who was photographed at a prestigious party fundraiser in September 2021, attended by Boris Johnson and organised by the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association (CLWCA), with sought-after tickets costing up to £500 a head.
Lin was vice-chair of the CLWCA’s Chinese group and sat at the top table of the event with Johnson himself. On a separate occasion in July 2019 he was pictured at another of the association’s fundraising events with Theresa May, towards the end of her time in Downing Street.
Responding for the government, Chris Philp, the policing minister, said he could not provide any direct response to Cooper because there was “a live investigation by the law enforcement community into this matter”. A substantive update would be made when there was something new to report, he added.
Chinese regional authorities have allegedly set up overseas police stations in recent years, operating alongside regular businesses, officially for the purpose of undertaking simple consular services such as renewing driving licences. China has contested claims it is operating such police stations, but there have been allegations in some countries, such as the Netherlands, of harassment and intimidation.
One young dissident, Wang Jingyu, who had been granted asylum in the Netherlands, said he was contacted by the Chinese station alleged to be operating in Rotterdam. “They asked me to go back to China to sort out my problems,” he told Dutch television in October. Later he said he had received threatening text messages and phone calls.
Journalists visiting the alleged locations in the UK have generally found little activity or bemused employees from the other businesses. But earlier this week in the US, the FBI arrested two men accused of running a covert Chinese station in New York, and using it as a base to track dissidents.
Lin has released a video on YouTube denying he runs an overseas police station. “First I do not work for any such Chinese police department, nor am I a police officer. Nor do I hold any public office in China,” he said, and added that he had acted as a volunteer to help Chinese nationals in London renew their driving licences.
“If I really worked for the Chinese government, wouldn’t I be rewarded somehow,” he added in remarks translated into English. Lin described himself as “a relatively successful” technology entrepreneur who chairs the UK Fujianese Association, representing people from the south-eastern province of China.
Lin said he was invited to attend the Conservative events in recognition of his achievements in business, and that his encounters with leading politicians were brief, for the purposes of taking a picture.
Source : The Guardian