Britain answers China claim consulate employee engaged prostitutes

By Elizabeth Shim
Simon Cheng is being held incommunicado in Shenzhen, China. Photo courtesy of Simon Cheng/Facebook
Simon Cheng is being held incommunicado in Shenzhen, China. Photo courtesy of Simon Cheng/Facebook

Aug. 22 (UPI) -- China's latest claim a British consulate officer is being detained in the mainland for "soliciting prostitutes" is being met with demands for more information from the British government.

Chinese state tabloid Global Times reported early Thursday Simon Cheng, 28, is under arrest for buying sex, and that the Hong Kong-based trade and investment officer is being punished under Article 66 of China's Public Security and Penalties Act.


Cheng is being held in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, near the border with Hong Kong.

According to Shenzhen's public security office, Cheng "chose" to remain incommunicado with family and acquaintances. Following his disappearance, Cheng's family hired a mainland lawyer, who may still be unable to locate him in Shenzhen's detention centers, the South China Morning Post reported.

Cheng has not been able to make contact with the outside world since disappearing about two weeks ago, as he was returning to Hong Kong on Aug. 8 following a work-related trip to Shenzhen.

Beijing has defended its decision to detain Cheng, and previously said he is being held for "public security management regulations."

"I also want to stress that this worker is a Hong Kong citizen -- not a British citizen -- and he is Chinese. And this is entirely a matter of China's internal affairs," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.


On Thursday the Global Times claimed Cheng may have not been opposed to the idea of Hong Kong independence and was sympathetic to Taiwanese interests.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said they are making Cheng's case a priority.

"Neither we nor Simon's family have been able to speak to him since his detention," the office said. "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."

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