Published On: Tue, Aug 20th, 2019

Hong Kong latest: Why has British government worker been detained in China? | World | News

Hong Kong protesters have flooded streets in the territory for their fifth consecutive month of anti-government demonstration. The protests ignited in the wake of a proposed extradition bill, which could have allowed Chinese officials to extradite alleged criminals to the mainland. Demonstrators started to trickle in during March this year, but now estimates have placed 1.7 million people facing off the Hong Kong government. Chinese officials have branded the protests “behaviour that is close to terrorism”, and Hong Kong police have cracked down with brutal force in some places. Fears are now growing for a missing British government worker who failed to return to work after a two-week trip to China.

Why was a British government worker detained in China?

British government worker Simon Cheng has now been missing for 12 days, after he failed to return to work on August 8 from a business trip.

Mr Cheng, 28, works for the UK consulate in Hong Kong as a trade and investment officer.

According to Hong Kong-based news site HK01, he was approaching the border when he told his girlfriend to “pray for me” and lost contact.

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Unconfirmed reports suggest Mr Cheng was detained in mainland China as he crossed the border.

Chinese officials are yet to confirm whether they are holding Simon Cheng – who works for the Scottish Development International (SDI) section of the British Consulate – in custody.

Kong Wing-Cheung, Superintendent of Hong Kong Police, said a missing person’s report was filed on August 9.

The official did not disclose whether they had received information from mainland China.

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In the UK, the Foreign Office said it is working with Chinese authorities in Guangdong Province and supporting Mr Cheng’s family.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are extremely concerned by reports that a member of our team has been detained returning to Hong Kong from Shenzhen.

“As soon as we became aware, we raised the issue with the authorities in Guangdong Province and Hong Kong and have done so regularly since.

“We have also raised with the Chinese embassy in the UK and with the authorities in Beijing.”

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“We are also in regular contact with his family and providing them with support.”

A spokesman for the SDI said they are also awaiting further information.

They said: “We are aware of the situation and Mr Cheng’s welfare is our priority.

“We are seeking further information, working alongside our partners in the FCO who are in contact with Mr Cheng’s family, as well as the Guangzhou and Hong Kong authorities.”

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