Chinese police have announced Simon Cheng Man-kit, a staffer at Britain's Hong Kong consulate, was detained in Shenzhen for hiring prostitutes.
The 28-year-old trade and investment officer in the consulate's Scottish Development International Section went missing after a business trip to the mainland 8th August - the Chinese foreign ministry confirmed 21st August he’d been arrested for “violating the law” and given 15 days of administrative detention.
Cheng's girlfriend, said to be from Taiwan, told Hong Kong media Cheng was likely to have been detained on the territory of Hong Kong after he’d got to West Kowloon railway station. He’d apparently planned to return to Hong Kong via a high-speed railway line.
When he didn’t return to work, the British consulate spoke to his family and police were contacted – however officers at the relevant railway station said there were no arrests August 8th or 9th, according to Hong Kong media.
Prior to joining the British consulate in Hong Kong in December 2017, he worked for the European Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan and also studied at the London School of Economics.
It’s unclear whether the apparatchik’s imprisonment will add further fuel to ongoing protests in Hong Kong, although oughly two dozen protesters gathered 21st August outside the British consulate in Hong Kong to demand the UK government step up efforts to secure Cheng’s release, chanting “save Simon now!”.
Beijing has taken an increasingly hardline stance on the protests, which it sees as foreign-managed, artificial upheaval, and has increased inspection measures at the border.