Alarm as UK consulate worker goes missing in the mainland

Top News | Stella Wong 21 Aug 2019

Concerns are mounting that a Hongkonger working for the British consulate general has been detained by authorities in the mainland after he went missing while in Shenzhen.

The last message sent by Simon Cheng Man-kit, 29, who works as a trade and investment officer for the Scottish development international section at the consulate, was to his girlfriend saying he was going through immigration on August 8.

He was in Shenzhen for a business meeting and was due to return to Hong Kong via the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

Before losing contact, Cheng reportedly told his girlfriend he was "on the high speed train" and that he was "passing through [the border] pray for me."

Based on the message, Cheng's girlfriend believed he was at the West Kowloon express rail border point when he went missing.

After going to the Immigration Department, she was told that Cheng was under "administrative detention" by mainland authorities for an unspecified reason and that his location was unknown.

But mainland officers at West Kowloon said there had been no arrests made on August 8 and 9.

"We are extremely concerned by reports that a member of our team has been detained while returning to Hong Kong from Shenzhen," a spokesman for the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. "We are providing support to his family and seeking further information from authorities in Guangdong province and Hong Kong

The Wan Chai police station said it received a missing person report on August 9 in relation to the incident.

A duty officer of the Police Public Relations Branch said a woman filed a report that her 28-year-old younger brother went missing after he left his residence in Jordan on August 8.

"Upon initial investigation, the man was found to have left Hong Kong through Lo Wu Control Point on August 8 to enter the mainland," he said.

"Police have informed the informant about the progress and maintained close contact with authorities in the mainland."

Investigation by the Regional Missing Persons Unit of Kowloon West is underway.

The Immigration Department said it has also received a request for assistance from Cheng's family.

The department has contacted the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong to gain a better understanding of the situation and has been providing the family with advice and assistance.

The department will keep in contact with Cheng's family and the office will follow up on the case, a spokesman said.

According to Cheng's LinkedIn account, he has been a trade and investment officer for the Scottish Development International section - which is Scotland's inward investment agency - since December 2017.

He acts as the first point of contact for stakeholders and handles inquiries as a representative of the Scottish government.

He also works with Scottish companies to support their trade in Hong Kong and South China, which involves planning visits to the Greater Bay Area.

Activist Max Chung Kin-ping will organize a petition outside the British consulate today and request that it helps Cheng.

Under administrative detention, Cheng can be held for a maximum of 15 days without being charged.

Cheng would have been detained for 13 days to date.

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