POLICE Scotland has told The Herald that "no crimes or offences have been identified" at the Glasgow restaurant accused of being a “secret police base” for China's communist regime.

The update from the force came as MSPs debated Chinese state surveillance, with Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton saying there were "serious question marks about the kind of influence that China may seek to exert over many countries who rely on it in the coming years or months."

READ MORE: Chinese ‘secret police’ restaurant owner is a friend of politicians

In October, the Loon Fung on Sauchiehall Street was named in a report about a global network of overseas units, accused of conducting “persuasion operations” to coerce dissidents to return home.

Spanish-based NGO, Safeguard Defenders, identified 54 of these "police service centres" across five continents and 21 countries. 

The restaurant denied any wrongdoing, with the manager telling press: “There are no secret police here.”

At the time, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she was extremely concerned by the report and that she had discussed it with Police Scotland. 

Asked for an update today, Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Houston said: “Officers visited a restaurant on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow as part of ongoing enquiries.

"We are continuing to assess all information, in conjunction with local and national partners.

"At this stage, no crimes or offences have been identified."

READ MORE: Chinese spy probe: Police Scotland visit Loon Fung restaurant

In Holyrood, Mr Cole-Hamilton called on the Scottish Government to undertake "an immediate, comprehensive investigation into the reach of Chinese surveillance in Scotland."

He pointed to the recent alarm over the Chinese spy balloons shot down in the US.

"The incident took social media by storm, but it should give us all pause and should be treated with the utmost seriousness.

"It was just one of several surveillance balloons, which the US officials say have been spotted over no less than five continents.

"This represents quite an alarming development by a Chinese state whose rhetoric particularly in relation to Taiwan has been become increasingly concerning."

He said there was reason to be "concerned about matters much closer to home."

He said China's National Intelligence Law requires every Chinese-based company to cooperate with state intelligence services.

"That's a fact. This region raises huge questions then, about potential intrusion and misuse of the data that Chinese companies collect through domestic technology that we readily deploy.

"Many companies operating in the United Kingdom, some of them household names fall into this category."

He said there was evidence to suggest that people working for TikTok in China had hacked into European data to track down journalist's sources.

"That is deeply worrying. That should perhaps prompt us all to consider whether the continued use of TikTok is prudent.

"But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Hikvision is a Chinese state-owned manufacturer, which supplies video surveillance equipment for both civilian and military purposes.

"Last year, Liberal Democrat research revealed that at least 11 local authorities across Scotland are currently using Hikvision cameras, which are also used in the detention centres holding Uighur Muslims against their will in Xinjiang.

"These cameras are also used by Police Scotland. Just last week, the UK biometrics Commissioner Fraser Sampson spoke of us having created a network of dependencies on Chinese surveillance technology without sufficient regard to risk.

"He also likened Hikvision in particular, as digital asbestos."

Mr Cole-Hamilron said little action had been taken.

He also raised the plight of the Hong Kongers in Scotland being pursued by China's intelligence services, with public meetings and events "disrupted by agents of the Chinese state."

"I fear that in the near future, we will look back on this time, with an understanding that we were living in the early days of a new Cold War," he told MSPs.

"We must take a stand now, we must firmly be on the side of human rights and international law as a parliament as a country.

"We cannot and must not be complicit in human rights violations will complacent in the face of such a potential national security threat. That is why the Scottish Government and the UK Government must now undertake an immediate comprehensive investigation into the reach of Chinese surveillance in Scotland."

READ MORE: Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingston to retire

Responding for the Scottish Government, Elena Whitham said Scottish ministers took security matters "extremely seriously."

She said the National Intelligence Law had "data protection and security data security implications in Scotland" and the government would not hesitate to take further action, "if necessary to protect our national security."

The Community Safety minister added: "The Scottish Government takes seriously the threats that this poses and is undertaking action within its powers to expose these issues.

"The Scottish Government is in the process of a multi-year improvement programme, which commenced in 2018. And all existing CCTV kit and equipment has been replaced with a new integrated system, and that will have data protection and security cleanly at the forefront of our minds."

Ms Whitham admitted that the government's national strategy for public space CCTV - published in March 2011 - was "not quite up to date yet in terms of the existence of the world that we live in today, and the digital asbestos"

"So we must look to improve in that in the future, and I will keep Parliament up to date and how we do that.

The minister said the majority of people in China "do want to foster good relations around the world."

She added: "This means working constructively on global priorities such as tackling climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as challenging China in areas of grave concern, such as human rights.

"And I do echo concerns that we've heard around the chamber. We have particular concerns regarding the situation in Xinjiang. And if we think about those other situations that we need to raise, people who have been persecuted for their religious beliefs in China, and perhaps as well, keeping at the forefront of our mind situation in Taiwan, and as well as the situation in Hong Kong.

"We are clear-eyed about our international engagement, including with China."