An employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong, who was reported missing during a business trip to China’s Shenzhen District nearly two weeks ago, has been detained by China for 15 days under the pretense of “violating social order.”
Simon Cheng Man-kit, age 28, is a trade and investment officer for the British Consulate General of Hong Kong. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang announced, on Wednesday, August 21, that Cheng is being held for allegedly violating regulations that govern “public order and security administration.”
China’s Foreign Ministry did not disclose any further details.
A China Security Administration procedure allows such detention of individuals for up to 15 days on account of an array of minor offenses that do not qualify as crimes under China’s criminal code, such as creating a public disturbance.
Shuang stated, “I want to be clear: This employee is a Hong Kong citizen, not a UK citizen. So he is Chinese and this is a purely internal Chinese affair.”
Shuang denied that Cheng’s detention was related to the large-scale, pro-democracy protests taking place in Hong Kong. However, he then went further to say, “Regarding the series of words and deeds by the British side recently on Hong Kong-related issues, we have repeatedly lodged solemn complaints with the UK.”
As reported by CNN, the British Consulate-General remains “extremely concerned” by the report of Cheng’s detention, and remains in contact with Cheng’s family.
Cheng’s detention in Shenzhen illustrates the concern, held by many in Hong Kong, over a recently proposed extradition agreement that would expand the Chinese communist government’s ability to capture and extradite criminal suspects from Hong Kong.
Cheng traveled to Shenzhen from Hong Kong on August 9, as part of a planned trip on behalf of the consulate’s Scottish Development International investment agency. The agency promotes trade between Scotland and other countries, including China.