China tops countries persecuting citizens beyond borders: Freedom House

Non-profit names China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia among biggest perpetrators of 'transnational repression'

Uighurs and supporters in Turkey protest near China's consulate in Istanbul July 5, 2015. 

Uighurs and supporters in Turkey protest near China's consulate in Istanbul July 5, 2015.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China is persecuting more people outside its territory than any other country, according to Freedom House.

Best known for its annual "Freedom in the World" report, the Washington, D.C.-based NGO Freedom House researches and advocates for democracy and human rights around the world. On Thursday (Feb. 4), it published "Out of Sight, Not Out of Reach," a summary of 608 cases of transnational repression committed by authoritarian regimes against "civilians everywhere — including in democracies like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Australia."

Six offenders — China, Turkey, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran — top the list of 31 countries known to target their citizens beyond their own borders, from minority groups to government critics.

The means used to carry out these operations span "direct attacks" like assault, rendition (kidnapping), and assassination; and "co-opting other countries," such as by coordinating with other governments to detain and illegally deport nationals back to the country where they are at risk of persecution. Freedom House also lists less direct "long distance threats" via spyware, digital intimidation, and threatening family members to secure compliance from targets; and "mobility controls" like revoking or refusing to renew their passports.

China leads the list by a wide margin due to the scale of its efforts to silence, threaten, and repatriate not only its own citizens but also foreign nationals of ethnic Chinese origin.

Freedom House identifies three trademarks of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) brand of transnational repression, which it calls calls "sophisticated" and "comprehensive."

The first characteristic is the diversity of the targets, which include "ethnic and religious minorities" such as the Muslim Uighurs, political dissidents, human rights activists, "former insiders accused of corruption," and journalists. The second is the range of its tactics, which the NGO says encompass all three categories: direct attacks, long-distance threats, and co-opting nations China has significant influence over.

Last is the country's expansion of targets to include "ethnic Chinese, Taiwanese, or other foreigners, who are critical of CCP influence and human rights abuses." The report cites the example of the national security law, which was implemented in Hong Kong last summer and allows for the prosecution of citizens and non-citizens alike, regardless of where they are, over speech interpreted to violate the loosely defined legislation.

Updated : 2021-03-08 09:49 GMT+08:00