China closes Glasgow secret police station 6

China closes Glasgow secret police station

China has closed its secret police stations in Britain including one allegedly linked to a Glasgow restaurant.

The Loon Fung, on Sauchiehall Street, was one of 54 alleged clandestine bases across five continents, according to a human rights group called Safeguard Defenders.

The NGO claimed secret police stations were set up by a Chinese state body to monitor dissidents and to influence foreign politicians.

The Ferret subsequently revealed that a man linked to Loon Fung met senior UK politicians including Boris Johnson, while he was prime minister.

We also revealed that organisations linked to Loon Fung repeatedly invited Nicola Sturgeon to the premises while she was first minister and met with Jeremy Corbyn while he was leader of the Labour Party.

Our revelations prompted both the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and Scottish Liberal Democrats to call for an inquiry into how Chinese state operatives may have attempted to influence political leaders.

The Chinese Embassy has now shut all of its secret police stations after being told by the UK Government that running them in British cities — including Glasgow — is “unacceptable”.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat this week set out the findings of an investigation into allegations of unofficial Chinese overseas police stations operating in the UK, which stood accused of seeking to intimidate dissidents. 

In a written statement to parliament on Tuesday, Tugendhat said the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office told the Chinese Embassy that any functions related to such “police service stations” are unacceptable and that they “must not operate in any form”.

The Chinese Embassy subsequently responded that all such stations have closed permanently, Tugendhat revealed, adding that any further allegations will be “swiftly investigated in line with UK law”.

He explained that UK police visited each of the locations identified by Safeguard Defenders, and carefully looked into the allegations to consider whether any laws have been broken and whether any further action should be taken.

“I can confirm that they have not, to date, identified any evidence of illegal activity on behalf of the Chinese state across these sites. We assess that police and public scrutiny have had a suppressive impact on any administrative functions these sites may have had,” Tugendhat said.

“However, these ‘police service stations’ were established without our permission and their presence, regardless of whatever low level administrative activity they were performing, will have worried and intimidated those who have left China and sought safety and freedom here in the UK. This is unacceptable.”

In recent months Police Scotland also visited Loon Fung but said no crimes or offences had been identified.

MPs previously called for the stations to be shut down and the people operating them to be kicked out of the country.

In April, US federal agents arrested two New York residents for allegedly operating a Chinese “secret police station” in the Chinatown district of Manhattan. China said it firmly opposed what it called US “slanders and smears”.

Featured image credit: iStock and Bohdana Pasichniuk

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