MONEY: SNP Covid funding given to ‘Chinese secret police stations’

By Bill Heaney

Restaurants in Glasgow with suspected links to the Chinese state received over £160,000 in Covid grants set up or funded by the SNP government, it can be revealed today.

Responses to Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Conservatives confirm that the Loon Fung and Sichuan House in the city’s Sauchiehall Street each received £82,525 during the pandemic.

The payments were made between December 2020 and January 2022.

The Loon Fung has been accused of being the base for a secret police station acting on behalf of China’s communist regime.

Spain-based human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders has also said that Sichuan House has links to the Chinese state.

The SNP Government set out the eligibility criteria for the Covid funding while SNP-run Glasgow City Council administered applications and determined if the criteria were met.

Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay, left,  is seeking answers from SNP politicians at local and national level.

The Shadow community safety minister said:“It’s important to know what due diligence was conducted prior to this public money being handed over. Who gave these grants the go-ahead and why?

“Businesses across Scotland were devastated by the financial impact of the pandemic and were often left waiting for support by the SNP government.

“They might well question why more than £160,000 was paid to businesses with suspected links to the Chinese state, which has a despicable human rights record, crushes dissent and outlaws free speech.

“We know that the SNP government has form when it comes to China with former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year accused of being a ‘useful idiot’ by getting close to a Chinese organisation which MI5 warned was seeking to infiltrate UK politics.

“The SNP appears to be worryingly naive about the motives of China towards Scotland. Weakening the UK is clearly in the interest of Beijing.”

Loon Fung received more than £82,000 worth of Scottish Government Coronavirus funding. Through various Coronavirus-related grants set up, or funded by the Scottish Government, and administered by local authorities, the business Loon Fung received £82,525 in grants. These funds were received between December 2020 and January 2022. (Scottish Government FOI, 31 March 2023, Attached).

Sichuan House also received more than £82,000 of Scottish Government funds. The premises received an identical amount of money, £82,525, from grants set up or funded by the Scottish Government. As with Loon Fung, these funds were received between December 2020 and January 2022. (Scottish Government FOI, 31 March 2023, Attached).

Loon Fung was named as an alleged overseas spy station acting on behalf of Chinese police. Safeguard defenders named the restaurant in a report on overseas Chinese spy stations. They alleged the Chinese state was attempting to capitalise on the restaurant’s status as a popular destination as a front for its overseas activities. A spokesperson for Safeguard defenders said: ‘Loon Fung is likely merely a phone number or front to act as a contact point for the Chinese to make inquiries.’ The stations are allegedly used to intimidate and silence dissidents. (The Times, 27 October 2022, link).

Sichuan House is also a front for an overseas Chinese secret police station according to reports. Loon Fung is the trading name for Heng Cheng, a Newton Mearns-based real estate firm, which is linked to Sichuan House – another Chinese restaurant on Sauchiehall Street. The Scottish Fujian Chamber of Commerce, linked to the Chinese state according to Safeguard Defenders, is based at Sichuan House. (The Herald, 8 January 2023, link). 

Police Scotland visited the premises of Loon Fung, which was named as a Chinese overseas police station. Described as an ‘overseas police service centre’, Loon Fung on Sauchiehall Street was named by Safeguard Defenders as one of these units conducting ‘persuasion operations’. Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Houston said: ‘Officers visited a restaurant on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow as part of ongoing inquiries.’ (Glasgow Times, 7 December 2022, link).

 The owner of Loon Fung has wined and dined with senior Scottish politicians. Linhao Lin hosted Alex Salmond whilst he was First Minister and accompanied a former Lord Provost of Edinburgh on an expenses-paid trip to China. Lin is linked to the Loon Fung restaurant on Sauchiehall Street. (The Herald, 8 January 2023, link). 

Nicola Sturgeon was branded a “useful idiot” by a defence and security commentator for her government’s approach to the Chinese state (Scottish Daily Express, 14 January 2022, link).

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