The Chinese Embassy to Korea on Friday expressed regret over an allegation that China had operated an undercover police station in Seoul, labeling a local media report about the matter as "groundless."
"I am paying attention to a report on Friday by a Korean media outlet, citing sources, that China had installed an 'overseas police station' in Seoul and a restaurant in Gangnam served as a 'location,' and I regret this media depiction," a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy said in a statement posted on social media.
"The media report is totally groundless, and the so-called 'overseas police station' does not exist at all."
The spokesperson added that it supports the principle of nonintervention, abides by international law and respects sovereignty.
"I call on media to stop any acts of fabrication based on rumors intentionally and to do practical works to promote the mutual understanding and strengthen the friendship of China and Korea," read the statement.
This is the first official statement from China in response to the allegations. The allegations, first raised by Spanish human rights organization Safeguard Defenders, said China had covertly operated 102 overseas police service stations in at least 53 countries, including Korea, as of December to pursue fugitives.
Safeguard Defenders claimed one such station in Korea is run by Nantong Public Security Bureau, one of the four local police jurisdictions in China to have been exposed so far. Its exact location remains unknown, the organization said in its latest report this month.
Chosun Ilbo, which ran a report on the allegations Friday, indicated that Korean spy authorities had begun conducting a search on a Chinese restaurant in the greater Gangnam area in southern Seoul.