China detain British diplomat: Foreign Office 'extremely concerned' – 'Pray for me!'
Simon Cheng Man-Kit did not return to work on August 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 Beijing 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 to China in 1997.
Simon Cheng Man-Kit has not been seen for 10 days after he failed to return to work after a business trip to Shenzhen in China on 8 August.
Mr Man-Kit, 28, works as a trade and investment officer in the UK’s consulate in Hong Kong, based in the Scottish Development International section.
Unconfirmed reports suggest he was detained in China while returning to Hong Kong – the scene of mass anti-government protests for months.
“We are extremely concerned by reports that a member of our team has been detained returning to Hong Kong from Shenzhen,” a representative of Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement released by the British embassy in Beijing.
“We are providing support to his family and seeking further information from authorities in Guangdong Province and Hong Kong,” the representative said.
Hong Kong’s Immigration Department confirmed via email it had received a “request for assistance from subject’s family member” and “had provided the family with proper advice and practical assistance”.
The British consulate in Hong Kong referred Reuters to the Foreign Office statement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the case.
Hong Kong police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reports of Mr Man-Kit’s disappearance coincide with the revelation that Facebook and Twitter removed a wide-ranging network of social media accounts and profiles which are believed to be part of a Chinese state operation aimed at sowing discord in relation to the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
(This is a breaking news story – more to follow)