British consulate staff held for 'soliciting prostitutes': report

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 23 2019 12:10 PM

HONG KONG - A staff member of the British Consulate General in Hong Kong who went missing earlier this month on a business trip to Shenzhen has been detained by mainland authorities for "soliciting prostitutes," a Chinese tabloid reported Thursday.

The Global Times report said Simon Cheng, 28, a trade and investment officer at the consulate and a Hong Kong citizen, was detained on Aug. 9 under a law in which people caught visiting prostitutes can be detained for up to 15 days.

It quoted the Chinese police division detaining Cheng as saying that it was he who requested that his family not be notified about his detention.

Cheng reportedly left Hong Kong for neighboring Shenzhen on Aug. 8 to attend a conference and has not been seen since.

The British Foreign Office said Tuesday it was "extremely concerned" over Cheng's detention and was seeking further information from Chinese authorities.

In a fresh statement carried by British media Thursday, it said, "Neither we nor Simon's family have been able to speak to him since his detention. That is our priority and we continue to raise Simon's case repeatedly in China, Hong Kong and London and have sought to make contact with Simon himself."

Cheng's family said in a statement posted late Wednesday that the lawyer they hired has failed to locate Cheng.

"We could not help thinking that the (Shenzhen) authorities were deliberate in blocking the lawyer's right to meet him. We are even more worried that Simon might be mistreated during his detention," the statement read.