BEIJING – The British government said on Tuesday it was "extremely worried" about the disappearance of an employee at their consulate in Hong Kong, reportedly arrested by the Chinese authorities on their return to mainland China Relations between Beijing and the West continue to burden.
Simon Cheng, a 28-year-old Consulate trade and investment officer, planned to attend a technology conference in the border town of Shenzhen on August 8 and return to Hong Kong on the same day on a high-speed train. His girlfriend told the news website HK01
Cheng got out of touch as he tried to pass Chinese immigration that evening. Since then, he has been held under administrative detention on the mainland for unknown reasons, his girlfriend told HK01.com, citing information she received from Hong Kong immigration officials.
The disappearance of the official adds another charm to the difficult relationship between China and the West, which has recently deteriorated due to numerous disputes.
Beijing is increasingly spat in bitterness trading with the United States, accusing Washington and London of fueling protests that have shaken Hong Kong, a former British colony, over the summer. Canada has criticized China for arresting two of its citizens, including a former diplomat, as political hostages when it arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Chinese technology giant Huawei, in Vancouver, who is being sought in the US for alleged Iranian sanctions violations.
There is no indication that Cheng, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was traveling under a British diplomatic passport when he disappeared. Cheng's public social media profiles show that he began working at the consulate in December 2017 after completing a master's degree from the London School of Economics.
British officials confirmed Tuesday's disappearance of Cheng. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, however, denied the incident.
"We are deeply concerned about reports that a member of our team was arrested on the return trip from Shenzhen to Hong Kong," a British Foreign Ministry spokesman said. "We support his family and request more information from the authorities in Guangdong province and Hong Kong."
Cheng wrote "Passing through" and prayed for me "to his girlfriend as he embarked on Chinese immigration into the plateau of West Kowloon approached -speed Hong Kong station, according to HK01, citing screenshots of his girlfriend. Following an agreement between Hong Kong and the mainland authorities, cross-border travelers pass through immigration within the West Kowloon terminus. Mainland Chinese police are also on duty in parts of the station under the jurisdiction of the mainland.
Details on the disappearance of Cheng arose as street political tensions continued after another huge, if peaceful event, street march over the weekend.
A proposal to extradite certain suspects from Hong Kong to put them on trial in the Chinese mainland controlled by the Chinese Communist Party sparked week-long demonstrations in the city, a trick of local leaders acting in concert with Beijing, to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms one country, two systems "within China, according to which the territory should enjoy a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after the return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
City guide Carrie Lam promised to hold talks on Tuesday with people from across the political spectrum who did not seem to be guided by the protesters' central demands.
China this month released personal information and a photo of an American diplomat based in Hong Kong to portray her as a hostile intelligence officer.
Tensions have deteriorated particularly high on the bustling southern border, where a river separates Shenzhen from Hong Kong.
In recent weeks, Chinese immigration authorities have demanded that travelers unlock their smartphones to view their message records and photo albums for review. Foreign journalists have also been examined more closely.
In an obvious demonstration of violence against demonstrators in Hong Kong, thousands of Chinese armed forces gathered and held exercises near a Shenzhen stadium along the border.