British consulate employee held in Shenzhen over prostitution

An activist holding an illustration of Mr Simon Cheng at a rally outside the British consulate in Hong Kong on Wednesday. The UK Foreign Office said neither it nor Mr Cheng's family has been able to speak to him since his detention. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
An activist holding an illustration of Mr Simon Cheng at a rally outside the British consulate in Hong Kong on Wednesday. The UK Foreign Office said neither it nor Mr Cheng's family has been able to speak to him since his detention. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING • An employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong has been detained in China for involvement in prostitution, China's state-backed Global Times newspaper reported, as Britain said it continued to urgently seek information.

China's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the employee, Mr Simon Cheng, had been detained in Shenzhen.

The Global Times, in a report on its English-language website yesterday, cited Shenzhen police as saying that Mr Cheng had been detained for 15 days for "solicitation of prostitution".

Police in Shenzhen's Luohu district said that Mr Cheng had violated Article 66 of the law on administrative penalties for public security, the newspaper said.

The law stipulates that people who engage in prostitution or visit prostitutes shall be detained for no less than 10 days but no more than 15 days, and may also be fined 5,000 yuan (S$980).

Britain's Foreign Office said yesterday that it was continuing to "urgently seek further information about Simon's case", adding that neither it nor Mr Cheng's family has been able to speak to him since his detention.

Mr Cheng did not return to work on Aug 9 after visiting the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported, citing an interview with his girlfriend and family.

Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with China accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs.

Britain, the United States and other countries have urged China to respect the "one country, two systems" formula under which Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2019, with the headline 'British consulate employee held in Shenzhen over prostitution'. Print Edition | Subscribe