A Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate has been detained in China’s border city of Shenzhen for violating the law, the Chinese foreign ministry has confirmed, in a move that appears likely to worsen already strained ties between Beijing and London.
Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Simon Cheng had been detained for 15 days by the Shenzhen police.
Cheng did not return to work on August 9 after travelling from Hong Kong to Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with his girlfriend and family.
Geng said Cheng was being held for breaching public security management regulations, giving no further details, and added that the matter was entirely a Chinese internal affair on account of the latter’s Chinese citizenship.
His announcement came after the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office said on Tuesday it was “extremely concerned” by HK01’s reports, which identified Cheng as a trade and investment officer at the Scottish Development International section of the consulate.
Cheng’s family later confirmed his disappearance in a Facebook post on Tuesday night, saying he travelled to Shenzhen on the morning of August 8 for a business trip.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong police confirmed it had received a report on August 9 about a British Foreign Office employee who has been missing since crossing into China on a business trip.