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There may be more 'Chinese police stations" in Canada, minister says

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

TORONTO (Reuters) - There may be more "Chinese police stations" operating in Canada, the Public Safety Minister told a Canadian TV station on Sunday, months after police said they were investigating whether two community centers in Montreal were being used to intimidate or harass Canadians of Chinese origin.

"I am confident that the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] have taken concrete action to disrupt any foreign interference in relationship to those so-called police stations, and that if new police stations are popping up and so on, that they will continue to take decisive action going forward," Marco Mendicino told CTV’s Question Period in an interview.

In March Canadian police said they were investigating the centers in Montreal. Earlier this month the Canadian Press reported the centers were operating normally, despite the minister's statements that all secret stations in Canada have been shut.

China has denied allegations of interfering in Canada's affairs.

Mendicino's comments follows tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions by Ottawa and Beijing.

Last week Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker critical of China's treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

The following day China expelled Canadian diplomat Jennifer Lynn Lalonde from Shanghai.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has been under pressure to clamp down on suspected Chinese interference and call a public inquiry into the matter. His government has appointed a special investigator to look into the issue.

Canadian media outlets have published several reports citing allegations by anonymous intelligence sources that the Chinese government ran schemes to interfere in Canada's last two elections. Beijing has denied those allegations.

Trudeau has said China attempted to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 votes but that did not change the outcome.

Trudeau said last week Canada "will not be intimidated" by Chinese retaliation.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; editing by Grant McCool)