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Chinese authorities say 'missing' Hong Kong man arrested at bridge

By
Elizabeth Shim
Arrests have increased on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to Macau, according to Chinese authorities. File Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE
Arrests have increased on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to Macau, according to Chinese authorities. File Photo by Alex Plavevski/EPA-EFE

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Chinese authorities claim they have arrested a "missing Hong Kong man," according to a Hong Kong-based news service.

Chinese public security officials in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, said on social media platform Weibo a man who has been evading authorities for seven years was arrested while crossing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, HK01, the online news portal reported Monday.

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Authorities in Zhuhai said in their statement the arrest took place at 3 p.m. Friday at an immigration checkpoint on the bridge that connects mainland China to the Chinese territories.

The "suspect" is a 58-year-old Hong Kong resident with the surname "Zhong," or Chung, Chinese authorities said.

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The official statement comes after Hong Kong reports confirmed a man had gone missing on the cross-border bridge. The man's son had said his father texted him as he was about to be detained, according to Hong Kong Free Press on Monday.

Zhuhai officials said the arrested man is accused of smuggling mobile phones using a network of freight trucks in Hong Kong and Macau. The operation took place in August 2012.

Shenzhen airport authorities had allegedly placed a "wanted" poster for the man, describing him as a principal member of a criminal organization.

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Zhuhai officials said the man has been transferred to Zhuhai border prosecution, and that "several other suspects" wanted by mainland security have been arrested at bridge checkpoints.

The Chinese statement comes as President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Macau from Wednesday to Friday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Macau handover to the mainland.

Xi has not visited Hong Kong since protests began in June. He did meet with Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Monday in Beijing, the South China Morning Post reported.

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Xi praised Lam for "standing firm on the 'one country, two systems' principle," according to the report.

"I hope that different sectors in society can be united, work together to push forward Hong Kong's development and get it back on track," Xi said in a statement that expressed support for Hong Kong's police force.

On Sunday police officers used force at a shopping mall to arrest anti-government protesters, a possible sign tensions persist between the two sides despite the a pro-democracy victory in local council elections in November.

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