Chinese authorities insist “overseas police stations” are for renewing driving licences and receiving physical exams, as Scottish detectives begin investigating reports of secret bases.
It comes after a Chinese restaurant in Glasgow denied being a secret base for the foreign power’s police.
Spanish human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders claimed the Chinese government is operating a global network of undeclared police stations that are being used to intimidate and silence dissidents.
Nicola Sturgeon described reports that the Loon Fung restaurant on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street was one such station as “deeply concerning”.
She said any foreign country operating in Scotland must “abide by Scottish law”.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry told STV News the allegations are “simply untrue”.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
But the spokesperson said that the “overseas police stations” are service centres to help Chinese nationals have their driving licences renewed and receive “physical examinations”.
They 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 licence.
“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 licences renewed and receive physical examinations.”
The First Minister said Police Scotland was aware of the allegations and she said they would require to “be treated extremely seriously”.
Assistant chief constable Andy Freeburn said: “We are currently reviewing these reports to assess any criminality in conjunction with local and national partners.”
STV News has contacted Loon Fung for comment.