Fake ‘Chinese police car’ spotted in Melbourne

A photo of a fake “Chinese police car” in Melbourne’s southeast has sparked outrage on social media.

The photo, uploaded to Reddit on Sunday, showed a dark Nissan sedan with Chinese characters for “police” stencilled on the bonnet and “special police” along the side, and a Chinese police badge on the front door.

“Why is there a marked Chinese police car in the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne?” user MediocreStream wrote along with the photo.

Reddit users quickly pointed out that the car was not actually affiliated with the Chinese government and that the markings were just decoration.

“Chinese students think it’s funny,” one wrote. “Source: I’m from over there. Also: It’s not funny. China is literally known to kidnap dissidents that aren’t even Chinese citizens anymore from overseas.”

While the cars may not be officially affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, many online said they still served a purpose.

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.

“It’s passed off as cosplay but is used to intimidate local Chinese communities as an extension of CCP power,” one Reddit user wrote.

But another said, “Believe it or not, it’s just some young and stupid Chinese students showing off their stupidity. CCP intimidating programs usually involve threatening parents/children/relatives in China, not by showing some police cars. Source: I am Chinese Australian.”

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said she was unable to comment without more information about the time, date and location of the photo, and which station it was reported to.

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”.

After violent clashes between pro-Hong Kong and pro-China protesters at Adelaide’s Rundle Mall, 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.

“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.

Political activist Drew Pavlou shared the latest photo on Twitter, writing, “It’s illegal to impersonate Australian police officers but somehow it’s fine to impersonate foreign police in Australia. We need legislation making it illegal to impersonate foreign police otherwise it is too easy for the CCP to intimidate and terrorise dissidents in Australia.”

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

NSW Police has been contacted for comment.

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Originally published as Fake ‘Chinese police car’ spotted in Melbourne

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