The Home Office has been accused of being “fearful”, “timid” and “wet” in its handling of alleged unofficial Chinese police stations operating in the UK. Chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood told Express.co.uk that successive governments have been “too timid in wanting to stand up to China, fearful that somehow China would react and retaliate and we’d then lose further trade”.
This comes amid reports that China is considering sending lethal aid to Russia, as Putin’s forces continue to slog in the south and east of Ukraine.
Mr Ellwood spoke of a culture of “hesitance” amongst British leaders in “wanting to stand up to China”.
In February this year, Sir Iain Duncan Smith told Express.co.uk that Chinese nationals were running unofficial police stations, two in London and one in Glasgow, targeting “expats who are no longer in China and bullying them to go home”.
“They’re not official these are people that come in”, he said. “We don’t think [they have entered the UK] on diplomatic passports but they’ve been allowed to come in by the British Government. The British Government has done absolutely nothing to shut them down.”
The police station, Mr Duncan Smith says, have forced “loads” of British-based Chinese expats to leave the UK for China.
“They get them on a video link and on the link at the other end in China are members of their family being bullied.”
The MP for Chingford and Woodford Green accused Rishi Sunak of doing “nothing” to halt the practice.
His Conservative colleague Mr Ellwood this week told said that “China continually… push the envelope of what’s acceptable.
“We condemn back and they step back a little bit but the bar has moved a little bit there way.
“Whether it’s these Confucius centres, whether it’s these Chinese policing operations that monitor their own people.
“What they’re doing is continually surveying and understanding their competitors in ways which are just unacceptable.”
The MP for Bournemouth East said if Britain continues to allow this sort of behaviour from the Chinese government, it is enabling the conditions for greater exploitation at the hands of Beijing further down the line.
He asked rhetorically: “When you have a nation doing that today, what might they do in five to ten years’ time?
“We’re in a cold war, this is what you do in a cold war, you find clever clandestine ways of testing the limits of what you’re pushed up against and exploiting it.
“So you need to be, when these things happen, completely robust in your response. Too often we’re just too wet.
“It took backbenchers including Iain Duncan Smith and myself to push Huawei out of British Telecoms. It shouldn’t have been us that did that, the Government should have recognised it…”
Asked if he believed the three ad hoc police station were still operating because the Home Office was timid and fearful, he said: “Completely”.
A government spokesperson said:
“Reports of alleged, undeclared ‘police stations’ operating in the UK are of course very concerning and are taken extremely seriously.
“Attempts by foreign Governments to coerce, intimidate, harass or harm their critics overseas, undermining democracy and the rule of law, are unacceptable. We are committed to tackling these challenges wherever they originate.”