UK Consulate worker violated law - BEIJING

Top News | Reuters and Amy Nip 22 Aug 2019

A Hongkonger working at Britain's Hong Kong consulate has been detained in Shenzhen for violating public security management laws, the Foreign Ministry said in Beijing yesterday.

Simon Cheng Man-kit, 28, works as a trade and investment officer for the Scottish Development International section at the consulate. He failed to return to Hong Kong after attending a business meeting in Shenzhen on August 9.

Britain has said it is "extremely concerned" the staff member at the consulate had been detained.

Speaking at a news briefing in Beijing yesterday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Shenzhen police had detained Cheng for 15 days for violating the Public Security Administration Punishment Law, but gave no further details.

"He is not a British citizen. He is a Chinese person, so this is entirely a matter of China's internal affairs," Geng said. "As for Britain's comments, we've made stern representations to Britain for the series of comments and actions they've made on Hong Kong."

He also called on Britain to stop interfering in China's internal affairs.

"Britain has made a series of wrong statements on Hong Kong. We again urge them to stop gesticulating and to stop fanning the flames," Geng said.

Shenzhen police declined to comment.

The public security law is for maintaining public order and safeguarding public safety.

Cheng's family confirmed his disappearance on a Facebook post on Tuesday night, saying he traveled from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on August 8 for a business trip.

Hong Kong police confirmed the family made a missing-person report on August 8.

They found that Cheng left Hong Kong via the Lo Wu border point in the afternoon and that there was no record of his return.

"Our liaison team had actually inquired with the mainland authorities about the whereabouts of this gentleman," senior superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said at a press conference yesterday. "However, the results are still pending."

There is a mechanism in place through which mainland authorities should alert their Hong Kong counterparts if citizens are arrested.

The police will then inform the person's family members, Kong said. It does not matter where the person was taken from and the same mechanism would apply if Cheng was apprehended at the West Kowloon Express Rail border point.

Activist Max Chung Kin-ping organized a small protest against Cheng's detention outside the consulate in Hong Kong.

He said Cheng had not been involved in any of the anti-government demonstrations.

"Simon's case has shown very serious consequences to everybody in Hong Kong," he told reporters, while urging the British government to "save Simon now."

A lawyer has been searching for Cheng at detention centers in Shenzhen, but has come up empty handed, Cheng's family said yesterday.

"There is no way for us not to suspect that authorities want to stop Cheng from meeting a lawyer," his family said. "We are all the more worried that Simon will be subjected to unspeakable treatment during his detention."

amy.nip@singtaonewscorp.com

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