The police stations are part of China's campaign to "persuade" Chinese citizens suspected of criminal acts – particularly telecommunications fraud, but also political "crimes" such as political dissent – to return to China to face criminal prosecution. China not only threatens the Chinese citizens themselves but also members of their families who have stayed behind in China. Such threats have been continuing for years, as FBI Director Christopher Wray pointed out in 2020, when he mentioned a case from the US in which a Chinese government "emissary" visited a target in the US and told him that he could choose between returning to China or committing suicide.
China's overseas police stations purport merely to have administrative or consular functions, but function as means of threatening Chinese abroad to return to China, thereby skipping the necessary legal requirements under international law.
Crucially, the police stations operate without the consent and knowledge of the host countries, such as in the Netherlands, where one of the police stations operates out of a plain ground-floor apartment in Rotterdam belonging to a small Chinese handyman business.