Fake Chinese police car in Melbourne: More photos, Victoria Police issue statement

More photos have emerged of a fake “Chinese police car” in Melbourne that sparked outrage on social media earlier this week.

The dark grey Nissan Altima sedan has Chinese characters for “police” stencilled on the bonnet and “special police” along the side, and a Chinese police badge on the front door.

A photo of the car in Melbourne’s southeast suburbs first went viral after being uploaded to Reddit on Sunday.

“More photos of same fake Chinese police car in Australia, this time spotted in West Melbourne,” political activist Drew Pavlou wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, sharing two pictures of the same car parked on Adderley St.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to impersonate the Chinese police in Australia. Anonymous members of Chinese Australian community have sent this to me in fear.”

In another twist, a search of the Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria public register shows the car is an approved rideshare provider for platforms such as DiDi or Uber.

Some social media users said the decals, which can be purchased online for around $10, were sometimes put on cars by Chinese students who “think it’s funny”.

But others argued even though the cars might not be officially affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, it was “passed off” as a joke but was “used to intimidate local Chinese communities as an extension of CCP power”.

Victoria Police on Thursday confirmed it was “aware of images of a vehicle in Melbourne which appears to have been fitted out with various unofficial decals to give the appearance that it is a Chinese government vehicle”.

“At this time no specific offences have been detected and we have not received any reports in relation to the matter,” a spokesman said.

On Monday, Mr Pavlou shared another photo of a Jeep 4WD with the same insignia, which he said had been spotted on the NSW south coast by a follower of his page.

“While we are not able to verify the authenticity of the images provided, police have previously looked into reports of vehicles with similar insignia and no offence was identified,” a NSW Police spokeswoman said.

Cars with similar markings were spotted in Adelaide and Perth in 2019, following rallies in Australia supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators.

At the time, WA Police said officers spoke to the driver of one of the vehicles who “stated he purchased the decals online” and “placed them on his car as a joke”.

In South Australia, after violent clashes between pro-Hong Kong and pro-China protesters at Adelaide’s Rundle Mall in 2019, the organiser of the rally told the ABC people felt “intimidated” by the car spotted around the city.

“I think it’s highly inappropriate, especially when you pretend to represent a foreign law enforcement unit in a Western country,” she told the broadcaster at the time.

“Initially we thought it was a bit of a joke. We did receive reports of it a few days before our protest … Could this be an organised effort by the Chinese government or is it really just two completely separate instances of a prank?”

SA Police later tracked down the owner of the BMW. They would not reveal further details about the car or its owner but warned people to be careful if they were approached by anyone who arouses suspicion.

“While the markings on the BMW by themselves do not appear to constitute an offence, police are still making inquiries,” a police spokeswoman told The Advertiser.

The sightings sparked calls from the Greens at the time to tighten laws in the “grey area” around impersonating foreign police in Australia.

It comes after a bombshell investigation last year revealed China was secretly running illegal “police stations” overseas, including at least one in Sydney, in order to harass and spy on its citizens living on foreign soil.

This week, authorities in the US arrested two men in connection with one such “secret Chinese police station”, funded by Beijing, operating in the heart of New York City.

Two US citizens were arrested and charged with conspiring to act as agents of the Chinese government and obstructing justice in connection with the New York site.

Harry Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, appeared in court in Brooklyn on Monday. The pair allegedly operated the police station in Manhattan’s Chinatown district which was shut down late last year.

China has said the “police stations” were actually “overseas service centres” where Chinese citizens in the US could renew documents such as driving licences.

But US officials have said they were set up at the behest of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, claiming they undertook activities including identifying and harassing Chinese nationals in the US who were critical of the Communist Party regime.

Beijing hit back at the arrests and accused the US of “Cold War thinking” – a common rebuke from Chinese officials.

“China firmly opposes the US side’s slandering, smearing, engaging in political manipulation, and maliciously concocting the so-called transnational repression narrative,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.

[email protected]

with Benedict Brook

Originally published as Victoria Police say ‘no offences detected’ as fake Chinese police car spotted again in Melbourne

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