British consulate worker detained in China for ‘violating the law’

‘Helpless’ family of British consulate worker in Hong Kong say they are ‘worried sick’ after he is jailed for 15 days in China for ‘violating the law’

  • Simon Cheng Man-kit did not return to work after a business trip to the mainland
  • His family suspect he was detained on his way back from Shenzhen on August 8
  • He allegedly told his girlfriend to ‘pray for me’ as he tried to return to Hong Kong 
  • Beijing today confirmed the detention of the young British consulate worker  
  • A spokesperson said he had been detained for 15 days for ‘violating the law’
  • The man’s family said: ‘We feel very helpless and are worried sick about Simon’

A worker at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate has been detained in China’s border city of Shenzhen for violating the law, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang made the comments at a daily news briefing. The consulate worker has been given 15 days of administrative detention, according to the Ministry.  

The man’s family said they ‘feel very helpless’ and ‘are worried sick’. They said their lawyer had not been able to gain information about his whereabouts from the Chinese authority.  

Britain’s Foreign Office has said it is ‘concerned’ over reports that consular worker Simon Cheng Man-kit (pictured) has been detained in China

Britain said on Tuesday it was ‘extremely concerned’ by reports that a staff member at the consulate in its former colony of Hong Kong had been detained in mainland China. 

Simon Cheng Man-kit, who works at the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, is missing after a business trip to the mainland, according to reports from local media. 

Mr Cheng had been at a business event in Shenzhen, south-eastern China, on August 8 but failed to return to work, and his family suspect he has been detained.  

According to Hong Kong news website HK01, he had told his girlfriend to ‘pray for me’ as he said he was on his way back. 

Beijing’s spokesman Geng said the worker had violated China’s Public Security Administration Punishment Law without giving further details.

He also stressed that the worker was a Hong Kong citizen. He said the issue, therefore, was not a diplomatic problem, but China’s ‘internal affairs’.  

【家人關於Simon Cheng 失蹤情況的聲明】 Family’s Statement on the Disappearance of Simon Cheng 1. Simon Cheng…

‘We are concerned by reports that a member of our team has been detained while returning to Hong Kong from Shenzhen,’ said a spokesman from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

‘We are providing support to their family and seeking further information from authorities in Guangdong province and Hong Kong.’ 

Mr Cheng is a trade and investment officer in the consulate’s Scottish Development International Section.  

After contacting his girlfriend, Mr Cheng failed to answer two further calls from her.

He had apparently planned to return to Hong Kong via a high-speed railway line from Shenzen. 

When he did not return to work, the British consulate spoke to his family and police were contacted. 

However, officers at the relevant railway station said there were no arrests on August 8 or 9, according to Hong Kong media. 

Simon Cheng Man-kit (pictured), who works at the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, is feared to have been detained after failing to return a business trip to the mainland

Mr Cheng (who is pictured in Germany) had been at a business event in Shenzhen, south-eastern China, on August 8 but failed to return to work

According to Mr Cheng’s online profiles, he has worked at the British consulate in Hong Kong since December 2017. 

Before that, he worked for the European Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan and also studied at the London School of Economics. 

He also describes himself as a former member of the Young Fabians, a branch of Britain’s centre-left Fabian Society. 

Mr Cheng’s disappearance comes at a tense time in relations between China and the West, as Beijing battles Washington in a trade war and China faces growing criticism over its crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. 

Weeks of protests in the Chinese territory show no sign of relenting with campaigners calling for the resignation of the city leader, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police use of force.

A Hong Kong protester sits on the floor during a non-cooperation movement against a controversial extradition bill at the Kowloon Tong MTR station on Wednesday

Protesters wear protective gears as they gather outside Tuen Mun MTR statiion in Hong Kong

Anti-extradition protesters gather at Kwai Fong MTR station in Hong Kong on Tuesday

The demonstrations were triggered by a controversial extradition law but have broadened into a call for wider democratic reforms. 

Beijing has taken an increasingly hard line tone against the protests, which it sees as a direct challenge to its rule.

It has also repeatedly warned Britain – the former colonial ruler of Hong Kong – against ‘interference’ in the protests. 

Britain, the United States and other countries have urged China to respect the ‘one country, two systems’ formula under which Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. 

Mr Cheng’s disappearance comes at a tense time in relations between China and the West amid fears of a Chinese crackdown against protests in Hong Kong (pictured)

Hong Kong enjoys liberties unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the internet and an independent judiciary.

But the ongoing protests have raised fears of a Chinese crackdown.

Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the border, including checking phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the protests. 

China had promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997.  

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