Overseas Chinese Being Targeted by Criminal Gangs

A chilling article on the BBC last week, details how oversees Chinese are being targeted by criminal gangs who scam them into handing over all their money. But who can blame them? Sometimes truth and fiction are hard to separate.

For a while now it has been understood that China operates clandestine police networks in countries with Chinese diaspora communities, including in the West. In this way, China can keep tabs on their (former) citizens who now live abroad. If these oversees Chinese engage in activities that are critical of the Communist Party, their families back in China can face consequences.

Fear of being watched is an effective way to keep people in their place. Chinese know what their government is capable of and the lengths they are willing to go. For example, there is no concept of online privacy. Your online activity can always be monitored, including your private posts and financial and travel records.

This overextension of the government’s authority has led to a golden opportunity for criminals to develop evil scams that feed on this fear. Oversees Chinese, often neutralized citizens of Britain, Australia or the US, get calls from a ‘Chinese police officer’, informing them they are suspected of a crime and are on a wanted list. Fake evidence is given and people are threatened that they will be picked up by the police to be taken to China to face charges – unless they post bail.

These schemes can be very elaborate, including a video tour of a police station to convince the victim of their legitimacy, legal threats if the victim talks to anyone about the case, demands to instal spyware on their devices to ‘prove their innocence’, and demands that they hand over all kinds of personal information.

The fact that oversees Chinese fall for these schemes shows how they feel about their own government. It seems there is no trust that a judicial system will clear them if they are falsely accused. And they are willing to give their life savings to prevent standing trial in China, even if the charges are completely made up.

The fear oversees Chinese feel, even after decades abroad, brings home the pressures Christians within China often face. Control and surveillance are everywhere. People can be questioned for all sorts of reasons and their personal lives monitored. It takes courage to face this reality, to live in the light, to obey the government, but obey God first. And to trust that God sits enthroned above the algorithms and CCTV cameras.

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