ChinaDecember 26 2023, 5:23 am

Chinese “Consular Volunteers” Raise Concerns

Increased Scruti­ny Over Chi­na’s ‘Con­sular Vol­un­teers’ Amid Mon­i­tor­ing Concerns

On 22 Decem­ber 2023, Kate Bartlett report­ed that Chi­na’s use of “con­sular vol­un­teers” in its over­seas mis­sions is rais­ing alarms among ana­lysts and watch­dog groups. They fear these vol­un­teers could be part of Chi­na’s efforts to mon­i­tor dis­sent abroad, a claim Bei­jing denies. Safe­guard Defend­ers, a Europe-based rights group, notes that while these vol­un­teers don’t direct­ly engage in espi­onage, they assist in gath­er­ing per­son­al data of dis­si­dents and mobi­liz­ing peo­ple for protests. The con­cern has grown since the intro­duc­tion of new reg­u­la­tions by China’s State Coun­cil in Sep­tem­ber. In Johan­nes­burg, the Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­er­al con­vened a meet­ing for over 20 vol­un­teers, high­light­ing the glob­al spread of this net­work. Chi­na defends its pro­gram as benev­o­lent, insist­ing vol­un­teers adhere to local laws and reg­u­la­tions. This issue has sparked a debate on the fine line between diplo­mat­ic assis­tance and polit­i­cal influ­ence exer­tion by con­sular missions.


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