THE LOON Fung restaurant on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street has denied being a “secret police base” for the Chinese communist regime.

According to a report from the Spanish-based NGO, Safeguard Defenders, public security bureaus from two Chinese provinces have established a global network of outposts which conduct “persuasion operations” to coerce dissidents to return home. 

According to the NGO, there are 54 "overseas police service centres" across five continents and 21 countries, including two in London and one in Glasgow.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she was extremely concerned by the report. 

Safeguard Defenders claim these 110 Overseas units are often embedded in overseas Chinese community associations.

The one in Glasgow is based at 417 Sauchiehall Street, the same address as the Loon Fung. 

The restaurant has denied any involvement. “There’s no secret police here,” a spokesman told the Times. 

Green MSP Ross Greer raised the report during First Minister's Questions.

He said: “Yesterday the Dutch government confirmed they are launching an investigation into the existence of undeclared Chinese state police bases across Europe, bases being used to attack dissidents and pro-democracy activists.

“The report that prompted this investigation confirmed that one of these bases is located in Glasgow.

“This comes just days after the Chinese consulate in Manchester dragged a protester inside the gates of the consulate, where he and his staff then assaulted him.

“And after reports of students in Edinburgh who come from Hong Kong being targeted and intimidated by those associated with the Beijing regime.”

He asked the First Minister what action was being taken by Scottish authorities.

Ms Sturgeon said the reports were "deeply concerning" and being taken "extremely seriously."

She said: "Any foreign country operating in Scotland must abide by Scottish law. 

"The Scottish Government fully supports individuals' rights to freedom of expression. That is also an extremely important principle.

"Obviously, these matters require to be fully and properly investigated and it would not be appropriate for me to go into too much detail, but I do know and I know this as a result of a conversation I had just yesterday with the Chief Constable, that police are aware of these reports.

"Of course, the police are operationally independent and it's up to them to determine what investigations would be appropriate but they are aware of this and I will repeat, these reports do require to be treated extremely seriously."

Police Scotlad Assistant Chief Constable Andy Freeburn said: “We are currently reviewing these reports to assess any criminality in conjunction with local and national partners.”

Earlier this week, officials in the Netherlands suggested the units based there were operating illegally.

Wang Jingyu, a Chinese dissident who lives in the Netherlands, told Dutch media he was harassed by individuals operating from an undeclared Chinese police station, who urged him to think of his parents and return home. 

Maxime Hovenkamp, a spokeswoman for the Dutch foreign ministry, said: “The Dutch government wasn’t made aware of these operations through the diplomatic channels."

"That is illegal," she added.

Under Xi Jinping, Beijing has moved to crackdown on what little freedoms Chinese people have. Many have been forced into exile.

Tens of thousands of people living in Hong Kong have escaped the increasingly authoritarian government there and used a new visa program to gain British citizenship.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate in Edinburgh said the allegations were "simply untrue."

They said: "Chinese public security authorities are fully committed to fighting transnational crimes in accordance with the law, while strictly observing international law and fully respecting the judicial sovereignty of other countries."

They said the overseas police stations were "service centres."

The spokesperson said: "It is learned that due to COVID-19, a large number of overseas Chinese nationals are unable to return to China in time for services such as renewing their driving license.

"As a solution to these particular difficulties, relevant sub-national authorities have opened up an online licensing platform.

"The purpose of the service centres is to help overseas Chinese nationals in need access the platform to have their driving licenses renewed and receive physical examinations."