China admits detaining staffer at UK Consulate in Hong Kong

Simon Cheng is under ‘administrative detention’ in Shenzhen and the authorities are saying he is a Hong Kong citizen

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Simon Cheng (Facebook photo)

Simon Cheng (Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Wednesday (Aug. 21) that Simon Cheng Man-kit (鄭文傑), the missing staff member at the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, is under “administrative detention” at Shenzhen, the South China Morning Post reported.

Responding to press inquiries, ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang (耿爽) said Cheng had violated the Public Security Administration Punishment Law (治安管理處理法), without disclosing which exact provision Cheng had violated. Geng added that Cheng's “administrative detention” would last 15 days, which should end by Friday (Aug. 23).

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office expressed its concern on Tuesday (Aug. 20). Geng added that Cheng is not a British citizen, he is a Hong Kong citizen and as such this was an internal affair.

“We demand the British government to stop its irresponsible remarks and meddling with Hong Kong matters and Chinese internal affairs,” Geng said. However, he refused to answer why Cheng’s family was not notified of the detention and why Shenzhen police did not provide the arrest record to Hong Kong police after an inquiry was made.

Administrative detention is a punishment under the Public Security Administration Punishment Law. It requires signed consent from a general director at any county-level public security bureau, without the need for a court trial, and can last as long as 15 days.

Due to the ongoing anti-extradition bill protests, individuals entering or leaving China via the Hong Kong border can have their mobile phones inspected. Cheng’s girlfriend, surnamed Li, told media that Cheng always removes his photos and communication apps before crossing the border, leaving the reason for Cheng’s arrest a mystery.