Two vehicles have been spotted recently in Australia wearing Chinese police livery, raising a curious question: why?
Reddit user MediocreStream shared an image of a Nissan Altima labelled “Police” and “Special Police” with the emergency number printed.
7News reports police have received no complaints about the Altima.
Activist Drew Pavlou shared an image sent to him of a Jeep Grand Cherokee in New South Wales, with Chinese characters reading “Special Police” and “Macau Garrison 001”.
Similar vehicles popped up in Perth and Adelaide in 2019, coinciding with pro-Hong Kong demonstrations.
At the time, a spokesperson for the Western Australia Police Force said one owner had considered it a “cool thing to do”, having bought the decals on eBay. They subsequently removed them.
While these instances may have been mere cosplay, some have suggested something more insidious.
“There are people who feel intimidated by it … to be honest, I don’t really know what to make of it. I think it’s highly inappropriate, especially when you pretend to represent a foreign law enforcement unit in a Western country,” one pro-Hong Kong protester told ABC News in 2019.
A report last year from Safeguard Defenders found that two secret Chinese ‘police service stations’ had been set up within Australia, reportedly “to harass, threaten, intimidate and force targets to return to China for persecution”.
The non-government organisation also found such stations had been opened in a total of 30 countries.
Just this Monday, two men were arrested in the US for allegedly helping to establish a secret police station in New York City.
Three dozen officers with China’s national police force were also charged with using social media to harass dissidents inside the US.